If your child has suffered a traumatic brain injury, he may be hospitalized while his initial rehabilitation begins to help him with the life-altering limitations in his physical, mental, behavioral, and emotional abilities. He will need your help adjusting to these changes, starting with his stay at the hospital.
Every child’s adjustment to traumatic brain injury is different, but children often experience the following emotional challenges:
- Denial of the long-term impact of the changes
- Grief over the loss of physical and cognitive abilities
- Frustration with the slow recovery process
- Limited awareness of how things have changed
How You Can Help Your Child Cope With His Injuries During His Hospitalization
At the beginning of his rehabilitation, your child could have difficulty walking, eating, managing his personal care, expressing his needs and wants, and remembering things—all things he once did easily. Here are some ways you can help him as he grapples with these changes:
- Focusing on daily successes. Your child could be frustrated with the slow progress of his recovery. Focus on the small steps of improvement and remind your child of other challenges he faced before his injury that took time for him to overcome. Re-instill his confidence by staying positive and not criticizing—be certain family members and friends are consistent with this too.
- Managing changes in physical appearance. Your child could be uncomfortable with his scrapes and bruises, permanent scarring, loss of hair, or paralysis. If he wants to hide these problems with a hat or clothing, let him. Encourage him to talk about his feelings and remind him that some of the changes—hair loss, stitches, and bruising—are not permanent. Minimize the focus on appearance if it bothers your child, especially if the changes will be permanent.
- Understanding mental and emotional changes. Your child may not understand the magnitude of the changes to his memory, problem-solving abilities, speech, and personality. You will need to explain that his brain needs time to heal and that these changes could be long-lasting. Professionals can play a role in helping your child adjust to his new life and express his grief and anger over life-changing limitations.
- Dealing with friendships. Your child’s friends can help him feel like life will become normal one day. Decide which of his friends you trust to assist him as he returns home and to school. Encourage them to contact your child through telephone calls, texting, cards, and face-to-face visits when your child feels ready for this.
Helping your child adjust to his brain damage at the hospital could make the transition at home and school easier. Even with this, the rehabilitation and recovery will be ongoing and you will need to elicit the help of your child’s doctor, social worker, and teachers to assist him with the challenges he’ll face.
It is also critical that you contact an attorney if your child’s brain injury was caused by a serious accident where he was the victim. He will incur life-long medical and rehabilitation expenses, and he may never be able to work. You want to be certain he gets the compensation he deserves. Order our free book, 7 BIGGEST MISTAKES That Can Ruin Your California Injury Case, to start learning about his legal rights.