How brain injury affects relationships

Tuesday, January 07, 2020 • American Fork, UT 84003

Brain injuries, no matter how minor, have lasting effects on anyone. Cognitive, physical, emotional, and behavioral changes can place an extreme amount of stress on an individual’s relationships. While some relationships become stronger as a result, others fall apart. Here’s how brain injury effects relationships. 

General Stress

Hospital visits and personal injury claims can all add stress to the situation, but are a necessary part of recovery. Aspects like missing work can add a financial layer to this stress, as well. The combination of these alone is enough to put relationships to the test, but it doesn’t end there.

The changes that take place after a brain injury are what usually cause relationships to falter. Those suffering from the injury can find themselves more irritable, forgetting things more often, and unable to complete physical tasks they once found simple. Confusion and depression are also common. 

For Couples

Couples may have a strong bond, but the changes that take place after a brain injury will put any relationship to the test. Even though the amount of time couples spend together allows them to see changes as they take place, altered personalities and behaviors can make the other partner feel as though they’ve lost their lover. 

The survivor of the injury may also find their emotions surrounding the relationship changing. While this is a time of turmoil for couples, the ability to overcome these new challenges can strengthen the bond between them. 

For Parents

Parent-child relationships are some of the strongest in existence. While these relationships may not faulter as a result of the injury, parents often find themselves in states of worry and fear for their child. The experience is devastating, causing parents to question what future their child might have. 

For Children

How a child reacts to the changes caused by brain injury depends on their age and their relationship to their parent. Older children tend to be more understanding, while younger kids are often confused. Most children feel confused for a time, but proper support can help them overcome their apprehensions. 

For Coworkers

If the survivor is able to return to work, they may not find their coworkers being as understand as everyone else. Changes in productivity, social contact, and medical needs can cause strain between coworkers and supervisors. In many cases, individuals require an employment lawyer when bosses fail to adapt to their new needs. 

For Friends

The most common issue amongst friends is a lack of understanding. This is especially true when the symptoms are hidden or not quite as noticeable. Friends may trivialize or joke about the injury, which can have a negative impact on the survivor. 

It isn’t uncommon for friends to drift away as behavioral and emotional changes take place. Just like family and partners, however, those that are true friends will find their bonds strengthening with the survivor. 

The Impact

Changing relationships can cause turmoil in anyone’s life, brain injury or not. For those with brain injuries, these changes can create intense feelings of loneliness and sadness. Confusion and depression are often amplified as these changes occur

Most also become frustrated when they feel that those close to them do not understand their injury. When coupled with the frustration friends and family feel for not fully being able to care for the survivor, it can take a long time before things return to normal.