While there are different types of brain injuries, there are behavioral changes that are to be expected no matter what type of injury occurred. Some problematic behaviors might be more or less likely depending on the area and extent of the trauma, but your loved one might demonstrate one or more of these behaviors during TBI recovery, regardless of the specifics of the injury.
The first step in handling inappropriate behavior in a loved one with a brain injury is to understand what those behaviors are so that you can identify them – not taking them personally, helping when possible, and intervening when required. Familiarizing yourself with the behaviors that follow different types of brain injuries can ensure that you respond in the most effective way for yourself and your loved ones.
Emotional Volatility – Emotional volatility, also known as emotional lability, is a sudden, frequently exaggerated mood swing that is often extreme and may come across as an overreaction.
Sexual Inappropriateness – People who have experienced a TBI may see 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.
Personality Changes – Personality changes are natural in life, but people with a TBI can experience extreme, abrupt personality changes that can be disorienting to the people who know and love them.
Poor Concentration – It’s common for people to be easily distracted, have difficulty with multitasking, or lose track in a discussion or experience information overload after a brain injury.
Empathy Issues – A loved one may come off as self-centered after a brain injury. For example, they might demand rather than ask politely, 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 problem caused by issues with abstract thinking skills.
Denial – It is normal for people with traumatic brain injuries to adamantly insist that they are not having any problems. At times, this is due to the actual brain injury, but it also can be basic denial unconsciously executed as a coping mechanism to postpone the confrontation of fear and/or uncertainty about how to navigate the realities of life after trauma.
Inappropriate Emotional Responses – Your loved one may not demonstrate emotional responses to stimuli that triggered those very responses before the brain injury. They may not laugh when something is amusing, smile when seeing something pleasant, or cry when something is sad. The response might also be contextually unsuitable, not matching the current state. For example, they may laugh when sad or cry for no particular reason.
Memory Problems – No matter what type of brain injury occurs, most people expect memory loss problems. Short-term memory problems or amnesia can occur, but, surprisingly, the retention of new information is the most typical memory-related issue people will likely experience from brain trauma.
Aggression – Aggressive behavior after a brain injury is quite common. Knowing what triggers an aggressive response for your loved one can help in avoiding the behavior.
If you understand what behaviors are prevalent in different types of brain injuries, you can be ready for them as they surface and see them for what they are – a symptom of the injury. They are not a reflection of the person’s opinion or emotional investment in you.
If you have a loved one with a TBI and need help navigating any of these difficult behaviors, either at home or in a care facility, San Diego Home Caregivers can help. We’re pleased to offer our home care services in San Diego, La Jolla, North County, and the surrounding areas. Contact us to schedule your free care consultation online or at (619) 487-9000.