Traumatic Brain Injury

The brain is an incredible part of the human body. While it has astonishing elasticity, severe trauma can impact its ability to be flexible. This can lead to numerous physical, cognitive, and emotional changes.

What is traumatic brain injury?

Traumatic brain injuries are injuries that impact the head, spinal cord, and brain. When someone suffers from a traumatic brain injury, their brain’s physiology and chemistry may change. This change can be short term, however in severe cases, can be permanent. Not only do the changes in brain function impact a person’s mental health, but all of the lifestyle changes that result from a traumatic brain injury can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, grief, or loneliness.

There are many other reasons why traumatic brain injuries lead to decreased mental health. Often, people with traumatic brain injuries must rely on others for caregiving. These transitions can result in relationship conflicts that also have an impact on mental health. Similarly, after injury, an individual may not be able to return to work. This can negatively impact feelings of self-worth, confidence, or self-esteem.

Types of traumatic brain injury

There are many ways to acquire a traumatic brain injury. Accidents are one major cause for traumatic brain injuries, including car accidents, bike accidents, or sports accidents. Accidents cause individuals to hit their head and incur brain damage. Other people with traumatic brain injuries acquired their injuries from periods of deoxygenation, such as drowning. Strokes and aneurysms cause damage to the brain and are also considered traumatic brain injuries. Drug use can also result in brain injuries that have lasting effects.

No matter the type of brain injury, it’s vital for recovery to work with a medical team that includes a mental health professional. Coping with the medical treatments and the changes in lifestyle can lead to many distressing emotions that often get clouded with symptoms like confusion, exhaustion, inability to produce speech, inability to understand speech, and more.

Symptoms of Traumatic brain injury

There are many medical symptoms of traumatic brain injury, which will be treated by a doctor or other medical professional. Therapists who work with clients with traumatic brain injuries often see the following mental health or emotional symptoms:

  • Short temper
  • Lack of patience
  • Excessive crying
  • Intense frustration, especially when trying to adjust to their new cognitive abilities
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Irritability
  • Low self-esteem, especially if the injury was appearance-altering
  • Differences in personality from before the injury

People who have traumatic brain injuries may develop mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

Therapy for traumatic brain injury

When seeking therapy for traumatic brain injuries, it’s important to work with a therapist who specializes in trauma brain injuries and has additional training in this area. They’ll have the experience to understand the symptoms that the client has and to work with them through any cognitive deficits.

The goal of therapy for traumatic brain injuries is to help clients cope with the injury, including the many life changes that come with a serious brain injury. There are many emotions that arise with the adjustment to the new way of living, and being intentional about these emotions may lead to a smoother adjustment. Therapists teach clients self-compassion practices and encourage them to process through any painful emotions that come up for them.