What Difficulties Are People with TBI Going Through in COVID

Posted on July 5, 2021

In America, there are more than 5.3 million people who suffer from TBI. Most cases diagnosed are in older adults, with the leading cause being falls, from which people who are 65 years or older lose their lives on impact.

Elders, as compared to the younger generation or middle-aged people, have more compromised immunity. Moreover, about 60% or more are already suffering from other diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and memory loss and are generally weaker due to their age. Some of these conditions may make them more susceptible to contracting the COVID-19 virus. 

Hence, this pandemic has proven to be highly challenging and distressing for older people with TBI and all those who have a disability.

Although due to a surge in cases in America, strict lockdowns, curfew bans, and quarantine helped decrease the number of cases reported, the drawbacks and anxiety that TBI patients and persons with disabilities had to endure too much to handle.

A renowned brain injury center conducted several studies to put the problems faced by the people with TBI and other disabilities and its impact numerically or into percentages. They studied the effect of the pandemic accompanied by lockdowns on the people who suffer from brain injury. The results were evidence of deteriorating mental as well as physical health. 

65% of people felt isolated in the lockdown, 62% were fearful of what the future would hold for them, and 57% of people refused to go for rehabilitation. Moreover, results of another survey projected at least two-thirds of participants reporting that the lockdown has been a negative influence on their psychological wellbeing. 64% claimed to have increased anxiety, while 50-60% of people had adverse effects on their mental health and felt their depression worsening.

The critical factor towards stability for brain injury survivors and people with disabilities is having a fixed routine and having someone around 24/7. Due to lockdowns, families and friends were often compelled not to meet for days and even weeks. Coping up with daily life is very tiring and needs a lot of energy to get through with. Many TBI survivors also struggled to make ends meet or afford proper professional care. And with the pandemic looming over us, many small businesses and companies have shut down due to a lack of opportunities. Many people lost their jobs, and being brain injury victims; it’s harder for them to resume working and getting things back on track.

Behavior analysts and therapists grouped to analyze people's behavior and cognitive development associated with brain injury and disabilities during strict lockdowns. They observed that people who had brought about a successful change and had been able to stabilize their life to reflect a normal one were once again going down a path of disruptive behavior.

They also compared it to their initial period of recovery, which included frequent mood swings, having extreme reactions like crying, shouting, laughing at inappropriate times, or otherwise being completely lost, cold and quiet. They would show no initiative or interest in anything they were involved with. This is a concerning and alarming situation that should be dealt with with professional advice and medical care. Some medications that doctors recommend consist of mild sedatives and anti-depressants to help them manage the outbursts effectively. However, every brain injury victim and disabled person has a specific and unique set of symptoms that need to be addressed individually.

Immunocompromised hosts are an ideal breeding ground for the coronavirus. Being compromised of their cognitive, motor, and speech abilities, TBI or ABI patients need to be closely monitored for signs and symptoms before the virus can become fatal in their system.