Brain Injury

— Skylight Trust

​A brain injury can affect all members of a whanau and wider family circle.

A brain injury happens when something has hurt your brain. This can be caused by a serious accident, illness, or operation. A traumatic brain injury occurs after an accident and a non-traumatic brain injury is damage caused by an illness. The brain is a complex and delicate organ and injury can cause a broad range of symptoms and disabilities, including behavioural changes. The impact on a person and his or her family can be devastating, confusing and particularly frightening for children.

It is helpful if children can be given some idea of how the brain works and therefore gain some understanding of how it may be affected, when it is injured. Family and friends may also need to be educated to be able to better understand the changes in personality and behaviour, as a result of brain injury.

Because the skull is like a closed box, damage is caused when it swells, and any injury to it, will cause problems of some description. It depends which part of the brain is injured, as to which part of the body is affected.

Family members may experience the following emotions:

  • shock and denial - finding it hard to comprehend and accepting the reality of such a tragedy occurring to a family member
  • anger - that life has been disrupted in this way - Why us? Why our family? What did we do to deserve this?
  • loss - related to changes of personality and behaviour and therefore relationship
  • Guilt - at feeling ambivalence, such as feeling differently about the family member who has now changed in personality or thinking ‘it could have been me’ (survivor guilt)
  • frustration – at being unable to change what has happened, or to be of more help
  • resentment - that this injury has ‘ruined family life’ or that everything will always be different now
  • mourning/chronic sorrow - Mourning is the process that occurs when someone dies, enabling those affected to come to terms with the loss and eventually move on with their lives. This is not possible with brain injury. The injured person remains part of the family but may now be a very different person. The personality and relationships previously known are mourned, while living with and adapting to a new situation, which can sometimes be quite challenging.

For further information see link to Brain Injury NZ

Resources Available at Skylight

Skylight is here to help you through difficult times. We can assist you in a variety of ways with information appropriate for your situation. You are welcome to visit us and receive free information and a support pack from our resource centre and borrow books from the specialist library. We also facilitate Professional Development training and offer Counselling support services for children, young people, family/whānau and individuals who are experiencing tough times.

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