Living with brain injury

A brain injury affects every part of a person’s life. In many cases, the effects of brain injury are invisible to others, which makes it even more difficult to find help or understand what that person is going through. Since a brain injury differs from person to person and recovery depends on several factors, in many cases it’s difficult to know what long-term behavioural, cognitive, physical, or emotional effects there will be.

It will also affect you. A brain injury is a difficult life event that will drastically alter your life: you will have to learn how to live with the challenges and changes it presents. This includes changes to their independence, abilities, work, personality, and relationships with family, friends, and caregivers. They may depend on you for more things and in some cases require full-time, hands-on care that changes your daily routines and your relationships as well. This can cause a lot of emotions including stress, anger, depression, and even grief for both of you.

As you all go through the stages of acute care, rehabilitation, and learning to manage and live with a brain injury, you’re going to have a lot of questions about brain injury, how it impacts your loved one, and how it will impact you. This is where it’s helpful to have supports and services. With the help of others in healthcare, your community, your family, and your local brain injury association, you can begin to understand brain injury, the effects it can have, and how to manage changes.

This section of our website covers the kinds of changes a person may experience, management tips, and information on the kinds of tools and services that can help you navigate living with someone with a brain injury. There are also resources to help you navigate being a caregiver, whether this is a new role for you or if you have been doing it for a long time.

Adjusting to the new normal
After a brain injury, things will be forever changed. It will take some time to adjust to what is commonly referred to as the new normal.

Relationships after brain injury
Relationships with family, friends, and partners will be different after a brain injury. It’s important to work with the other relationship members to navigate those changes.

Mental health of brain injury survivors
Mental health can be impacted by brain injury, particularly for survivors who have experienced drastic life changes. Supporting their mental health is an important part of brain injury recovery.

Brain injury and social life
After a brain injury, many people struggle to maintain a social life and social relationships. Socialization is incredibly important for a person’s overall health and well-being. Socializing after a brain injury can be challenging, but it is not impossible. There are ways to interact with others that can create a rich and fulfilling social life while still being mindful of changing abilities and needs.

Supporting a person returning to work
The person with a brain injury may at some point return to work. When that time comes, the caregiver may need to provide assistance and support with the process.

Assistive devices and technology
Assistive devices and technology are anything that helps make activities of daily living (ADLs) easier and increase quality of life.

Hearing loss
Hearing loss after brain injury can impact a person’s activities of daily living (ADLs). This can be quite an adjustment, but with time and patience, they can establish new practices.

Vision loss
Vision loss can drastically impact how a person lives their day-to-day life. Changes to vision are difficult and require many adaptations.

Dysphagia is a condition that causes difficulty swallowing. This makes eating and getting enough food more challenging. There are several ways to manage dysphagia.

Brain injury and language
After a brain injury, some individuals experience challenges with language. This includes troubles with speaking, thought processing, reading, and writing.

Nutrition is an important part of brain injury recovery because both the brain and body need proper nutrients in order to heal. Understanding and cultivating a healthy diet can help with overall health and well-being.

It is common for individuals to experience challenges with sleep after brain injury. A lack of sleep can in turn make symptoms of brain injury worse. That’s why it is important to develop a healthy sleep hygiene routine.

Substance use
Substance use can both increase the risk of brain injury and exacerbate symptoms post-injury.

Finances can be a stressor after brain injury, particularly if the individual is not able to work. We have compiled some information on managing money and accessing financial support.

The process of aging can both impact people with brain injury and increase the risk of acquiring a brain injury.

Driving after brain injury
After a brain injury, an individual may need to be re-certified to drive. They may also need accessibility features in order to use a vehicle.

Depending on the cause of the brain injury, the person may be eligible for some insurance coverage. This section covers different policies available in Canada through personal and work plans.