Important Things to Know About Brain Injury and the Implications for the Family Member who becomes the Caregiver

When a loved one has a brain injury, it comes with a flood of emotions for the family member who takes on the new role of ‘caregiver’. It is normal to feel relief that the patient survived the cause of the injury. But it is also normal to simultaneously feel a sense of emotional trauma or anger with the subsequent change to their personal circumstances and lifestyle. After brain injury, caregivers often face a number of new financial, physical, and emotional implications.

Neurological rehab professionals understand the challenges caregivers face when there is a brain injury. Through education and collaboration, TBI rehab centers can be a wonderful source for families to best care for themselves and the patient. 

Understanding Grief When there is a Brain Injury

Grief can come in many forms when there is a brain injury. Many caregivers experience loss and anxiety, which often lasts long after the injury has occurred.

Caregivers may worry about another brain injury event, injury if they leave their loved one alone, and wonder if things will ever return to "normal."

There may be grief that life is not the same as it was before. It is not unusual to experience anger of loss of freedom as time and energy must shift to care for their loved one. 

It is important to understand there is hope, and as the patient moves along their recovery journey, life does improve. 

What the Caregiver Should Know About the Recovery Journey

Recovery is a process, and change will not happen overnight. The TBI survivor may need post-acute rehabilitation for a significant amount of time after the injury. As life adapts to this reality, it becomes easier to embrace. 

The recovery process can be broken down into phases:

  • Acute-care/hospitalization: Caregivers may be absent from work and home responsibilities as they work through their emotions. It is not unusual to focus on basic needs and to rely on other loved ones for support. It can be a very stressful time for caregivers but often a time where adrenaline can carry one through
  • Rehabilitation Program: It is not unusual for caregivers to feel renewed hope, but social support may decrease. There is an understanding at this point, life will be altered and may never return to how it was. It may bring a range of emotions and grief. 
  • Post Rehabilitation: Caregivers assume the role of providing care of the patient. It can be a difficult period as the caregiver transitions and experiences caregiver stress. By accepting available help and defining realistic expectations, caregivers can better handle their new life

Signs of Distress in Caregivers

Despite caregivers’ best efforts, sometimes additional support may be necessary to better care for a TBI survivor. There are number of warning signals to look out for, as listed below.

Signs of distress include:

  • Denial about the severity of the brain injury
  • Avoidance of the TBI survivor or other loved ones
  • Irritability
  • Physical or psychological health concerns

There is help available for caregivers, which may include:

  • Therapy (individual or family)
  • Support groups
  • Case management
  • Legal support
  • Home care and respite care resources

The focus should be on education and interventions that are appropriate and adapt as the patient needs change. The caregiver must also be allowed to care for themselves to better handle expected and unexpected stressors. 

What Should the Caregiver Know About Self Care

It is not unusual for caregivers to experience anxiety, depression, and social isolation, sometimes more so than the TBI survivor. After inpatient neuro rehab, they become responsible for the patient's needs, often sacrificing their care. 

The following are suggestions for self-care when you are a caregiver or a TBI survivor:

  • Ask for help from others
  • Get sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and other harmful substances
  • Engage in regular hobbies and activities
  • Do not take on added responsibilities that are not necessary
  • Do not isolate- socialize with friends and family
  • Monitor your mental and physical health
  • Know your limits

You do not have to care for a loved one alone. Even if the TBI survivor has graduated from post-acute rehabilitation, you may still utilize TBI rehab centers for support along your journey. 


post-acute rehabilitation


NeuLife Can Support You and Your Loved One After Brain Injury

NeuLife Rehabilitation is a premier TBI rehab center with specialized rehabilitation programs for brain injuries.

Our programs for neuro-rehab promote the highest level of functional independence and successful community reintegration for TBI survivors. We treat a wide range of diagnoses and injuries at our brain injury facility. Importantly, we support and involve caregivers. We know they will be key to success once the patient leaves the facility.

If you have any more questions concerning post-acute brain injury rehabilitation or any other issue regarding brain injury, call us at 800 626 3876 to make an appointment today. You can also make a referral or  schedule a tour to visit our best brain injury facility. 


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


Dedicated to providing the highest caliber of care to individuals with brain injuries, NeuLife Rehabilitation is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
Learn More

Our Partners


Let Us Help...

We know that choosing the next step in your recovery from a catastrophic illness or injury is complex. Together, we can help you take the next step.

Contact us with any questions today.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram