Emotional and Psychological Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury

Many people think of nursing as a career which centers solely on patient care. While this is largely a component, nurses truly cast their influence over patients’ loved ones just as much as the patients themselves. Families of patients requiring intensive or long-term care, such as those who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury, often must undergo painstaking lifestyle changes to accommodate this care. These changes, combined with changing family roles, can drastically change the dynamics of family relationships.

This is an important detail for nursing teams to keep in mind while caring for families in such situations. According to the study, “Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability across all age groups in the United States. Each year in the United States, an estimated 1. 5 million people sustain a TBI. This is eight times the number of people diagnosed with breast cancer and 34 times the number of new cases of HIV/AIDS” (Kao & Stuifbergen, 2004).

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The goal of the study is to examine the relationship dynamic between young adult TBI patients and their primary caregiver (in this case, their mothers), and to describe the impact of traumatic brain injuries on survivors and their families. The findings concluded that TBI survivors were at high risk for experiencing relationship breakdown, and subsequently, developed depression and substance abuse problems. Their entire lives are forcefully restructured. The study notes that “High levels of psychosocial disability were reported even 10 to 15 years after injury” (Kao & Stuifbergen, 2004).

It was also found that most socialization and support occurred within the family structure, rather than from friends. The changes that occur in the family members of TBI survivors are complex, and largely based on the individualities of each particular situation. These caretakers are also at risk for developing depression, as well as problems such as poor stress management and feelings of being overwhelmed. Due to the long term deficits that may occur, “families may perceive the survivor as more of a burden as time passes. Also, [family needs] change over time” (Kao & Stuifbergen, 2004).

The conclusion is that TBI patients experience dramatic changes in the physical, mental, and social aspects of their lives, and many of the same changes are also evident with the family infrastructure. These changes are often long term or permanent. I think that this article validates the idea that nurses should care for the entire family, and gives extended support as to why nursing care should go beyond just the acute care setting. Support during such struggles may help families achieve better long-term outcomes. These are ideas that I feel should be applied to nursing in any situation.

I thought it was incredibly interesting that the author is a TBI survivor herself, and had personal thoughts to offer regarding the study. Because of my strong belief and personal knowledge that positive nursing care really can make a difference, I would highly encourage my colleagues to read and take regard to the information available in this article. References Kao & Stuifbergen, (2004). Love and load: The lived experience of the mother-child relationship among young adult traumatic brain-injured survivors . The Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, Retrieved from http://www. medscape. com/viewarticle/474595

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