In this episode of Brain Injury Insider, host Michael Kaplen discusses the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on brain injury survivors, and the considerations that must be given by caregivers, loved ones, and those interacting with TBI survivors during these unprecedented times.
Today, I'd like to discuss with you the impact of covid-19 on brain injury survivors.
While we are all potentially affected by covid-19, brain injury survivors are particularly vulnerable because of their cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and physical injuries.
Even under optimal conditions, living with a traumatic brain injury can disrupt a person's life. But in these unprecedented times, the behavioral, emotional, cognitive and physical symptoms that develop may require particular care, attention, and support.
These problems may increase the stress upon a brain injury survivor in their day to day activities and in their daily lives.
Those interacting with a brain injury survivor, including medical professionals, social workers, attorneys, first responders, family members, and friends, need to provide additional support. They need to provide additional assistance, and provide additional explanations to these individuals.
We have learned important lessons from the World Trade Center catastrophe, persons with disabilities, following a catastrophic event, do not receive necessary support services. Mainstream responders, family members, and friends, fail to properly take into account the disabilities suffered by persons with a traumatic brain injury.
A person with a traumatic brain injury may be suffering from memory problems, concentration issues, sleep disturbances.
They might be overly emotional. They may be impulsive. They may forget what we have told them, or the instructions that they have been given.
In times of stress, such as what we are going through right now with covid-19,these symptoms and these problems may be exaggerated.
Failing to recognize this, and respond appropriately, can exacerbate a person's problems, and unfortunately, lead to tragedy.
TBI survivors may forget the necessary changes that need to take place in their routines. They may forget the proper precautions that are necessary. They may not understand, or forget the need to wear a mask, to maintain social distancing, and even to stay at home.
Reminders about these needs, as well as the need for frequent handwashing, is important. Brain injury survivors need constant reminders, they need constant reinforcement, and they need proper supervision.
It is reasonable to assume that a person with a traumatic brain injury may suffer increased anxiety and depression in these troubling times. They may experience a feeling or a sense of helplessness. They will require additional help and support. They will require additional care and attention from caregivers, as well as from family members and close friends.
Information and instructions to brain injury survivors need to be delivered slowly, repeated often, in simple, plain, easy to understand language.
Brain injury survivors need a direct explanation of the consequences of inappropriate behavior. Prompt intervention, proper service coordination, increased use of telehealth services, are all necessary in these strange times.
We ask government officials and agencies tasked with the job and responsibility of working with brain injury survivors, to give these individuals the proper care and attention that they need, and which is required for safety and continued good health.