5 Ways Support Groups Aid TBI Survivors With Recovery by Charles Watson
Posted on May 21, 2022
People who have survived a brain injury can often feel confused isolated, or frustrated about their symptoms. Joining a support group can benefit survivors of brain injury, including their caregivers, families, and friends, and gain valuable information. Support groups can also offer a sense of community and identity for survivors who have struggled with brain injuries.
Here are five ways professionals feel support groups can help people with brain injuries and their families.
1. Support Groups Help People Feel Less Secluded
Many people with brain injuries can often feel alone when living with newfound symptoms, ranging from issues with reasoning to physical incapacities. The whole notion of having a TBI isn't on anybody's radar until it happens to them.
Support groups let people with brain injuries see a large community of brain injury organizations and people with TBIs who've had related experiences. Fellow survivors are keen to share their stories and provide advice on living with a brain injury.
2. Support Groups Provide Networking Practical Knowledge and Resources.
The executive director of the BIA of Missouri, Maureen Cunningham, says that another benefit of support groups is that survivors can gain a wealth of medical practice and knowledge. They can become familiar with available resources from other survivors who may have been living with TBI for a longer period.
Many survivors have shared advice on which restaurants are best suited for people with noise or light sensitivity, how to open cans or doors, and what disability services are available in the area. Survivors of TBI can also help one another learn what various medical terms mean or make more informed choices about residential care, Medicaid, or insurance eligibility for Medicare or Social Security disability.
3. Support Groups Answer Questions That Doctors Can't
Support groups offer a place where TBI survivors' can get the facts they may not get at a doctor's office. Support groups provide a safe shelter for survivors to ask questions about their symptoms without fear of being criticized. Some examples are the kind of physical therapy stretches that work best or referrals to nontraditional medical treatments.
Eisenberg had her first brain injury after falling in the shower in 1988. One and half years later, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and continues to experience vertigo, dizziness, and spatial and depth perception issues, even after getting the tumor removed.
Survivors in TBI support groups said their healthcare providers didn't treat them with respect or comprehend their brain injury and assumed they were faking their symptoms. Support group attendees must jot down notes or questions in a journal and bring them to their medical appointments to remember everything they want to talk about with their physician.
4. Support Groups Provide Comfort for Caregivers and Families
Support group facilitators know that caregivers go through a great psychological and emotional toll when caring for someone with a brain injury. Families must learn to adjust to having a sibling, spouse, or child who could have a completely different personality than before their injury. Their life is turned chaotic by someone with a TBI.
A brain injury survivor's family members have to say goodbye to the person they knew before the brain injury and love a new person. Full-time caregivers often struggle with behavioral changes that may come, such as mood swings or public outbursts.
5. Support Groups Help Regain a Sense of Identity
Experts say that many people with chronic TBI feel that they have lost a part of their personality following the injury. Being in a support group offers a community and a supportive platform for people with TBIs to test out their new identity.
Support groups help people develop their identities, be a part of a community, and see the bright side of those possibilities.