There are many different types of brain injuries, but certain behavioral changes are common no matter what type of injury occurred. Some problematic behaviors may be more or less likely based on the area and severity of the trauma, but a loved one might demonstrate one or more of these common behaviors that follow a brain injury, regardless of the specifics of the injury.
The first step in managing common behaviors that follow a brain injury in a loved one is to make yourself familiar with what those behaviors are so that you can recognize them – not taking them personally, helping when possible, and intervening when required. Recognizing the behavior as a symptom of the injury can help inform your decision about the best course of action to keep yourself, your loved one, and the people in your life both emotionally and physically safe.
Aggression – Aggressive behavior after a brain injury is very common. Taking note of what triggers aggression in a loved one can help avoid the behavior.
Empathy Issues – After a TBI, your loved one may suddenly appear very self-centered. For example, they might demand rather than ask in a polite manner, or say things that hurt your feelings or are unrealistic without seeming to care. The lack of empathy is not a lack of love. It is an injury-related effect caused by issues with abstract thinking skills.
Poor Concentration – Traumatic brain injuries may make a person easily distracted and have problems multitasking. They may also easily lose track of their thoughts in a discussion or experience information overload.
Personality Changes – People naturally experience personality changes in life, but stark, unpredictable personality changes are one of the many common behaviors that follow a brain injury that can be disorienting to the people who know and love them.
Sexual Inappropriateness – A traumatic brain injury may also cause an increased interest in sex, a reduced interest in sex, or a lack of understanding about the contextual appropriateness of a sexual expression or behavior.
Emotional Volatility – Emotional volatility, also known as emotional lability, is a rapid, frequently exaggerated mood swing that is often extreme and may come across as an overreaction.
Inappropriate Emotional Response – Your loved one might not demonstrate emotional responses to stimuli that prompted those very responses before the brain injury. They might not laugh when something is amusing, smile when seeing something beautiful, or cry when something is sad. The response may also be contextually inappropriate, not matching the current state. For instance, they may laugh when sad or cry for no particular reason.
Denial – It is normal for people with traumatic brain injuries to adamantly insist that they are not having any problems. Sometimes this is due to the actual brain injury, but it also can be basic denial unconsciously implemented as a coping mechanism to postpone the confrontation of fear and/or uncertainty about how to manage the realities of life after trauma.
Memory Problems – Problems with memory are often the first thing the general public thinks of when a person experiences a TBI. Short-term memory problems or amnesia can happen, but, surprisingly, the retention of new information is the most common memory-related issue people will likely experience from brain trauma.
If you are familiar with the common behaviors that follow a brain injury, you can be ready for them as they develop and see them for what they are – an effect of the injury. They are not a representation of the person’s opinion or emotional investment in you.
If you have a loved one with a brain injury and need help with any of these difficult behaviors, either at home or in a care facility, Dakota Home Care can help in Bismarck, Mandan, and Fargo. Contact us to schedule your free care consultation online or at (877) 691-0015.