Archive for the ‘TBI’ Category

What Are the Common Myths About Concussions?

What Are the Common Myths About Concussions

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A concussion is considered a type of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). It is typically caused by a blow, bump, or jolt to a person’s head. In fact, many concussions occur when a person falls or receives a hard blow that causes their head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Concussions are a fairly common TBI, but, unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding this type of injury.

Understanding 5 Common Myths About Concussions

Debunking the following five myths can help you to better understand concussions.

Myth #1: Concussions are only sustained when you experience a loss of consciousness.

The truth is that loss of consciousness only occurs in a small amount of concussions. The most common signs of a concussion are dizziness, tinnitus, noise or light sensitivity, fatigue, balance issues, headache, and nausea.

Myth #2: A concussion can only occur if you receive a direct blow to the head.

The reality is that a concussion can occur without a direct blow to the head. In layman’s terms, a concussion is caused by force that has been transmitted to the head. For example, extreme cases of whiplash can trigger a concussion. In fact, any sudden movement that causes the brain to move, bounce, or twist within your skull can lead to a traumatic brain injury.

Myth #3: If you receive a concussion, then you need to immediately have a CT scan or MRI.

In many cases, a conventional CT or MRI scan will appear “normal” immediately after a concussion. In severe traumatic brain injuries, the CT scan will be used to identify intracranial clots; however, in the majority of cases, physicians will forgo CT scans and instead conduct a neurological exam. The exam will evaluate your reflexes, memory, balance, concentration, and vision. Depending on the results of your neurological exam, a CT scan might be completed.

Myth #4: Someone with a concussion needs to be woken up every 20 minutes.

The truth is that rest is very important during brain injuries; it helps the brain heal and recover. After a concussion, a person should be woken up every two to three hours to assess how they are looking, acting, and feeling. Once a doctor has cleared a person from the latter evaluation stage, you only need to wake them up periodically.

Myth #5: Injury to the brain can only occur at the exact moment of impact. 

A concussion might be considered a “minor” TBI, however, chemical changes can occur hours, days, weeks, and even months after the initial impact. Additionally, the brain is more susceptible to additional injuries after it has suffered from a concussion. In this vein, it is important to seek proper treatment immediately after a concussion so that you can better monitor changes to your symptoms in the days, weeks, and months following your TBI.

Get the Support You Need After a TBI

At TryMunity, we offer a supportive social community that is built to assist anyone who has suffered from a TBI. From concussions to severe brain injuries, our members are ready to share their messages of support, inspiration, and healing with you. To learn how TryMunity can help you in your journey to recovery, we invite you to ask questions, get involved, find solutions, and join our online community.

What Are the Best Ways I Can Support a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor?

Learn the best way you can support a traumatic brain injury survivor.

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Every year, an estimated 1.7 million people suffer from a type of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Concussions, dizziness, lightheadedness, and blurred vision are all symptoms of a TBI. Whether your friend or family member has just started the rehabilitation process or has been living with their injury for an extended period of time, there are several steps that you can take to support their journey to recovery.

3 Ways You Can Support a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor

Did you know that falls account for an estimated 35 percent of all TBIs? Motor vehicle accidents account for an estimated 17 percent, while repetitive trauma causes 16 percent of TBI cases. No matter how the injury occurred, many traumatic brain injury survivors struggle to adjust to their “new normal.” The good news is that, with compassion, you can help a survivor adjust to their new life through the following three tips.

Visit survivors on a regular basis

If your friend or family member is a TBI survivor who is homebound, then you should take the time to visit them on a regular basis. Even if a TBI survivor is non-verbal, studies show that they can still feel your presence. Remember that the visit doesn’t have to be serious. Instead, you can have fun, make jokes, and be true to your emotions. A survivor doesn’t want to feel as if you are on a “pity visit.” Instead, they want to feel your loving compassion as you provide a meaningful connection. With this in mind, individuals who suffered minor TBI injuries, such as concussions, can be supported by taking them for doctor-approved activities. These activities might be something lighthearted like mini-golf or more low-key, such as a fishing.

Recognize that it is ok to be uncomfortable

Seeing a family member or friend who used to be the life of the party live with a major TBI can be a challenge. Instead of trying to pretend that everything is ok, you can and should recognize that you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Once you have recognized that it is ok to be uncomfortable, you will be ready to be a true friend and loved one. Don’t forget that if your loved one lives far away, you can always support their journey from afar by sending snail mail. From funny photos to a story or a lottery ticket, there are countless ways that you can use mail to stay connected and brighten their day.

Help them join a community of supporters

One of the best ways that you can support a TBI survivor is by helping them find a community of supporters, advocates, and survivors. TryMunity is an online community that provides the education, resources, and support that anyone who has been affected by a brain injury needs throughout their rehabilitation journey.

There is Hope for Caregivers and TBI Survivors

TryMunity was built with the goal of spreading hope to TBI survivors, their friends, and their families. Through a supportive online community, TryMunity helps TBI survivors and their caregivers receive the education, medical resources, information, and sense of belonging that they need to complete their rehabilitation journey. To discover a supporting environment that can help you to better understand your TBI symptoms, we invite you to join the TryMunity community today.

Is an Acquired Brain Injury the Same Thing as a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Learn the differences between acquired brain injury and traumatic brain injury.

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Brain injuries can occur in a wide number of circumstances. However, like any bodily injury, no two brain injuries are exactly the same. In fact, while many people automatically think that an injury to their brain is classified as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the reality is that they could have suffered from an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). TBI and ABI are two different injury classifications that will still require the support of caregivers throughout the rehabilitation journey.

What is an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?

An ABI refers to brain injuries that occur after birth. Many ABIs are caused by strokes, a lack of oxygen to the brain for a designated period of time, infections, or prolonged drug and alcohol abuse. It is important to note that degenerative brain ailments, such as Parkinson’s disease, or injuries caused during birth are not considered ABI. In this vein, ABI survivors will have a wide range of symptoms and care requirements that can range from severe to mild.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

A TBI is typically caused by a blow to the head; however, it can also be caused when the brain rapidly moves inside of the skull from incidents such as whiplash. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), falls constitute 35 percent of TBI cases, motor vehicles account for 17 percent of cases, and repetitive trauma makes up 16 percent of cases. TBI survivors might experience a range of symptoms from mild to severe. These symptoms could include lightheadedness, blurred vision, headaches, impaired speech, memory loss, difficulty with cognitive functions, and, in some severe cases, death. It is important to note that no two people will experience exactly the same symptoms.

ABI vs. TBI: Understanding the Key Difference

As seen through the preceding sections, TBI is a subset of ABI. In other words, ABI accounts for all brain injuries, including traumatic and non-traumatic brain injuries. TBI only refers to those brain injuries that were the result of a traumatic experience. Both ABI and TBI diagnoses can require the support of caregivers as survivors seek to adjust to their new way of life and continue their rehabilitation journeys. Regardless of the diagnosis, caregivers should provide survivors with the hope, support, and resources that they need to recover and enjoy life to its fullest.

Finding Hope and Rehabilitation for Survivors

At TryMunity, we are dedicated to helping people from all walks of life who have been affected by an ABI or TBI. Our online community focuses on raising awareness, spreading hope, and providing the resources that survivors and caregivers need during this difficult time in life. Whether you have suffered from an ABI or TBI, or you are the caregiver to a survivor, we invite you to reach out to our community members, read our FAQs on brain injuries, and share your story. To discover the support and hope that you need after a brain injury, please contact a member of our community today.

What Are the Signs of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Infants?

The signs of traumatic brain injuries in infants vary depending on severity, location, and age.

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Like in adults, the signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury in infants can vary greatly. It all depends on the location and extent of the age, the age of the child, premorbid abilities, and which functions are affected (i.e. cognitive, sensory, etc.). The overall effects of a traumatic brain injury in infants can be temporary or permanent; it is impossible to say without a firm, in-depth diagnosis. And even then, no two children are the same. What is common for one infant may be completely the opposite in another.

Many young children who suffer a traumatic brain injury typically develop normally after their initial recovery process. The overall developmental progression goes on relatively unhindered. Some continue to display long-term difficulties, however, including learning disabilities and social interaction impairments. These cognitive functions are impacted for life.

Furthermore, with children, the overall impact of traumatic brain injuries is vastly different from an adult due to the brain still developing. Unfortunately, this means some children may not present any effects of their injury until later in life, once their sensory system and frontal lobe have developed past adolescence.

Signs of a TBI in Infants

The signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury in infants are similar to that of an adult, though they do vary in some regards.

The physical symptoms include:

  • Changes to bowel or bladder function
  • Changes on consciousness, ranging from a brief loss to a coma state
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Impaired movement, balance, and coordination
  • Motor speed deficits
  • Reduced muscle strength

Sensory and perceptual symptoms include:

  • Auditory dysfunction resulting in difficulty hearing speech, vertigo, hypersensitivity to sound, loss of postural stability or control.
  • Visual changes, including the perception of color, size, depth, and distance; changes to visual acuity; double vision; issues with visual convergence or accommodation; sensitivity to light.

Feed and swallowing difficulties may include:

  • Oral or pharyngeal dysphagia.
  • Risk of aspiration due to cognitive impairment while eating.

Lastly, behavioral and emotional symptoms in infants include:

  • Agitation, aggression, and combativeness.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • Excessive drowsiness.
  • A disorientated or foggy feeling.

As you can see, the range of symptoms in infants is extremely varied and far-reaching.

If your infant has endured a traumatic brain injury, find support and information on the topic with TryMunity at community.trymunity.com. Take part in our community today!

How Is a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?

In most cases, a traumatic brain injury is an emergency. The consequences of such an accident can worsen without proper treatment. But first, the doctors must assess the situation and diagnose the brain injury. Currently, the “Glasgow Coma Scale” is used to assess the severity of a brain injury. The test involves your ability to follow directions, move the eyes and limbs, and coherently form speech. These abilities are then scored from three to 15. A high score means a less severe brain injury, and a low score means a more severe injury. But, that’s not the end of the diagnosis. The doctors require imagery of the brain and the damage. Most often, a CAT scan, MRU, SPECT, or PET are scheduled for a better evaluation.

Methods to Diagnose a TBI

Following a traumatic brain injury, seek immediate medical attention for a TBI diagnosis.

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With a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, such as a blow directly to the head, diagnosis is relatively straightforward. It is when you mix in other life-threatening injuries, such as those caused by a car accident, that a head injury can be overlooked. The focus of all medical professionals is on treating the life-threatening injuries before them, such as extreme blood loss.

In such a case, the patient may wind up on a ventilator and sedated for the time being. This temporary vegetative state makes evaluating a brain injury difficult, if not impossible, until the patient can re-emerge from the state. Even then, a mild traumatic brain injury cannot be fully diagnosed until the individual is capable of speaking, moving their eyes or limbs, and performing simple tasks.

With all of that being said, when diagnosing a severe traumatic brain injury – an incident focused directly on the head or brain – certain symptoms will arise. For instance, an injury to the frontal lobe leads to a loss of high cognitive function, meaning inappropriate behavior or outbursts. An injury to the brainstem, on the other hand, may inhibit breathing, heart rate, and arousal. These symptoms are immediately noticeable to the medical team, as is a loss of consciousness, memory loss, or difficulty speaking.

Information About the TBI

Many medical professionals will have a series of questions to ask the patient or those who witnessed the accident/incident in question. These questions vary, but most include:

  • How did the injury occur?
  • Did the patient lose consciousness?
  • How long were they unconscious for?
  • Were there any noticeable changes in alertness, speaking, coordination, etc.?
  • Was the patient’s body whipped or jarred?

These questions, and more like them, provide a better idea of the accident and the injury.

If you have any further questions regarding the diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury or living with a TBI, please visit the TryMunity community at community.trymunity.com for support and informative dialogue on the topic!

Can You Die From a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A TBI-related injury can lead to death and disability.

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A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant cause of death and lifelong disability here in the United States. According to Brainline, traumatic brain injuries account for around 30% of all injury-related deaths annually in the country. Each day, around 153 people pass away because of their TBI injuries and symptoms. But, not everyone dies from their injuries. Some endure a lifetime of disabilities, pain, and discomfort. The long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries may include memory, movement, and sensation impairment, though every case is unique.

The Severity of a TBI

A traumatic brain injury is a significant bump, blow, or jolt directly to the head that may disrupt everyday functions. Not every injury to the head results in a TBI, though. Some bumps are minor and result in nothing more than a headache. But, with a TBI, the severity ranges from “mild” to “severe.” Most are mild, such as a concussion. Then, you have the more severe cases, in which memory loss or extended unconsciousness are more common.

According to research, around 2.8 million TBI-related emergency room visits occur each year. These visits result in long-term hospitalization and death. Thankfully, despite the increased number of TBI-related visits to hospitals across the country, the death rates have decreased. The decrease is just 5%, but that is significant enough to warrant notice. With all of the recent advancements in medical equipment and treatment procedures, doctors are now able to better help TBI injuries and patients through better care.

Leading Causes of TBIs

We can sit here and discuss statistics all day, but a better use of recent research is learning what the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries are and how to prevent one.

Here in the United States, the leading causes of TBIs include:

  • Falling – Slip and fall accidents accounted for nearly 50% of all TBI-related injuries and hospital visits. With a falling incident, both the youngest (0-14 years) and oldest (>65) age groups are affected more than anyone else.
  • Blunt Force – A blunt force hit to the head when being struck by an object is the second leading cause of TBI injuries. These incidents account for around 15% of all TBI-related hospital visits and deaths in the country
  • Accidents – A car accident is the third leading cause of TBI-related injuries in the United States. Around 14% of all TBI injuries are due to car accidents.

Regarding deaths associated with TBI injuries, intentional self-harm ranked as the second most common, with 33% of the total deaths, according to reports.

If you or someone you love suffers from a traumatic brain injury that makes everyday activities troubling, find solace in the TryMunity support community. We have a wealth of knowledge on living with TBI injuries, caring for TBI patients, and emotional support for all! Visit community.trymunity.com to learn more.

Will I Ever Be Symptom-Free After a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury can have long-lasting complications.

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There are numerous symptoms associated with traumatic brain injuries. Although research on the topic is improving every day, there are still some mysteries surrounding the injuries. For instance, will a patient ever be symptom-free after their injury?

It’s a tough question to answer because the injury varies from person to person. Some traumatic brain injury symptoms are relatively minor and short-lived. Others may be more traumatic and long-lasting.

In some cases, symptoms of a TBI do not appear right away. They can take days or weeks after an injury to present themselves. In those cases, people around the affected individual may start to notice subtle signs first. If symptoms do appear immediately (within the first 24 hours), emergency medical assistance is needed.

Common Signs and Symptoms of TBIs

Before we dive into the lifespan of TBI symptoms, let’s explore the most common signs and symptoms associated with traumatic brain injuries. Knowing these signs can help save lives.

  • A complete loss or change in consciousness lasting from a few seconds to a few hours.
  • Difficulty awakening the individual.
  • Convulsions or seizures.
  • One dilated pupil or double vision.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fluid draining from the ears or nose.
  • Slurred speech, weakness of arms or legs, loss of balance, etc.

After an injury of any degree, headaches, dizziness, confusion, and fatigue are the most common symptoms that appear immediately. These tend to resolve themselves over time, fortunately.

You may also experience emotional symptoms, such as frustration and irritability, that develop over time during the recovery period. These symptoms tend to last longer.

Becoming Symptom-Free After a TBI

The effects of a moderate to severe TBI can be long-lasting or permanent. It is entirely possible to undergo rehabilitation and recovery after an accident. Still, most severe TBI survivors face permanent challenges that require them to adapt to a new way of living.

A moderate to severe TBI can lead to long-lasting physical or mental disabilities. These challenges mean adapting with various work tasks, social obligations, and other routine tasks that were once easy to accomplish. Some patients find their skills and abilities are not as sharp as they once were.

Unfortunately, these lifelong challenges can have mental repercussions, too. The individual may feel inadequate or helpless in their current situation. It is common for TBI patients to suffer from depressive and anxiety disorders due to their injuries. These psychological struggles stem from the injury and the stress of facing life-long symptoms.

It’s crucial to provide TBI patients with as much love and support as possible. There are resources available online, such as TryMunity, and locally, including support groups and networks, that help patients overcome their challenges.

At TryMunity, we have developed a support community for both patients and their loved ones working to overcome traumatic brain injuries and disorders. We have a wealth of knowledge available and a helpful community you can lean on in your time of need.

Understanding a CT Scan After a TBI

A CT scan is often scheduled to further diagnose a severe TBI.

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Today, there is more available information about traumatic brain injuries than ever before. There are now studies relating to how contact sports (such as football) lead to traumatic brain injuries. The world is starting to recognize the issue on a broader scale.

Still, treatment is a mystery to some. A significant blow to the head or a twist of the neck is terrifying. Typically, the injury is not severe. There are cases, however, where a simple concussion is only the beginning. Some patients suffer from internal bleeding of the brain or a crack in the skull. In such cases, a CT scan is used to determine the extent of the damage.

Understanding a CT Scan

Often, a CT (computerized tomography) scan is necessary. A scan is designed to show the doctor if there is swelling or bleeding in the brain, or potentially a fracture to the skull. If there are signs of severe head trauma, a CT scan is the first test ordered to diagnose the condition. Your doctor will closely examine the scanned image for signs of a developing disorder or trauma.

First, most doctors will examine other symptoms, such as:

  • Weakness along one side of the face or body
  • Difficulty speaking, hearing, and swallowing
  • Reduced vision
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • One dilated pupil
  • Fluid or blood leaking from the ear or nose
  • Tenderness around the skull

According to reports, if you do not display any of the above-mentioned symptoms after an injury to the head, your risk of complications is around 1 in 7000. A CT scan is unlikely to help in such a case.

Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosis

While a CT scan is typically used to diagnose a traumatic brain injury, there are other methods often used. There is no single test that can definitively confirm a TBI. However, your doctor can assess the history of the injury, symptoms displayed, perform a physical examination, and schedule additional tests (including neuroradiology) to confirm the diagnosis.

Typically, TBI patients experience a loss of consciousness when enduring such a traumatic injury. This loss of consciousness ranges from a few seconds to a few minutes. In the most severe traumatic brain injury cases, the loss of consciousness can result in days spent in a coma. Even worse, some never leave a coma after their injury. Furthermore, most TBI patients experience some form of amnesia, whether minor or long-lasting.

So, when is the CT scan used in the diagnosis phase? A CT scan is used in conjunction with other diagnostic methods. Typically, a CT scan, which is fast and accurate, is used to diagnose acute head trauma that requires emergency treatment, such as surgery, to prevent life-threatening conditions. It starts with a visual diagnosis more than anything else, though.

If you or a loved one suffers from a traumatic brain injury and is living with the symptoms, consider TryMunity your number one source of support and informative articles on TBIs.

How Is a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?

Following a head injury, consult a doctor immediately for a TBI diagnosis.

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The majority of traumatic brain injuries are relatively mild. However, even the least serious brain injuries can have long-lasting health implications. One of the primary concerns with such an injury is that the situation can quickly worsen without proper treatment. Following an accident of any kind involving the head, you should seek medical attention.

During the visit, the doctor will examine the head and most likely schedule a neurological exam, including an X-ray of the brain. It is here that any noticeable damage will be discovered and diagnosed for further treatment.

Injury Information

If you or someone you know has sustained a serious head-related injury, you’ll want to rush to the nearest hospital. Here, medical professionals will begin their diagnosis.

A bit of information is always useful to help diagnose the patient. This information can include:

  • How the injury occurred
  • Whether or not the patient lost consciousness
  • How long the patient was unconscious
  • Any noticeable changes to speech or coordination
  • Where the patient’s head was struck
  • Whether the individual’s body was whipped or jarred

This information can be answered by relatively basic questions, and they provide a good indication of the extent of the injury for the doctor. Doctors are somewhat forced to rely on firsthand accounts of the injury for necessary information.

Methods of Diagnosis

With this information out of the way, your doctor will select a method of diagnosis. This often includes an imaging test, such as a CT Scan or MRI. Both are common methods for diagnosing head trauma.

  • Computerized Tomography Scan (CT) – A CT scan is often performed in the emergency room on any patient suspected of having a traumatic brain injury. The scan uses X-rays to create a detailed image of the brain. Then, doctors can quickly visualize any fractures, locate internal bleeding, blood clots, bruised tissue, or swelling, and begin treatment.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – An MRI utilizes radio waves and magnets to create an image of the brain. The test is often administered after the conditions stabilize or if symptoms do not improve shortly.

TBI Treatment

Following a diagnosis, TBI treatment may begin. The treatment method varies depending on the severity of the injury. For a mild traumatic brain injury, no other treatment besides rest and over-the-counter pain medication is required. Your doctor may pull you out of school or work for the time being.

For severe, emergency brain injuries, the patient will require enough oxygen to survive and an adequate blood supply for the brain. Treatment will begin in the emergency room or intensive care unit under the care of a highly-trained neurologist.

Dealing with life after a traumatic brain injury can be overwhelming to many. If you or a loved one has suffered from TBI, visit the TryMunity website for support and informative articles.

Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Living with a traumatic brain injury is a challenging experience.

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A brain injury changes your life forever. Today, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are associated with a broad number of neurological, psychological, and physical injuries that drastically impact how someone responds to the world around them. These changes are often behavioral, physical, and permanent. Many patients who suffered from a traumatic brain injury require assistance from friends and family indefinitely.

If you’ve suffered from a traumatic brain injury recently, these tips can help you learn to live with the change for years to come.

Managing Symptoms

A traumatic brain injury might result in everlasting symptoms and consequences. It can make thinking clearly and concisely extremely difficult. Most patients have trouble remembering crucial information, such as their birthday or how to operate a motor vehicle properly. There are also many physical symptoms that may appear, including trouble sleeping, constant headaches, dizziness, and visual impairment, not to mention the recurring pain many experience.

Additionally, there are psychological issues plaguing patients. These range from mood disorders and constant anger to anxiety or even sadness.

To properly manage these symptoms, the individual requires support from those surrounding them. Friends, family, and doctors are a necessity. There are also tools available to make life easier. On mobile phones, there are calendar apps to remember important dates and reminders you can set. In person, you can display a whiteboard in the kitchen or near the front door. Notes, dates, and important information can be written down for ease.

Techniques to Improve Memory

Following a severe traumatic brain injury, one of the primary neurological issues is a loss of memory. Some experience short-term memory loss or have trouble remembering important information. There are techniques designed to improve memory-related issues, which include:

  • Creating a structured routine for each day, including daily tasks and various activities.
  • Using aids, such as notebooks, calendars, schedules, task lists, or cue cards as reminders for various tasks.
  • Devoting time to reviewing and practicing new information.
  • Getting good sleep to reduce anxiety and memory troubles.
  • Speaking with doctors about how medications affect memory.

For maximum effectiveness, these techniques must be utilized regularly. You cannot set up a schedule, adhere to it for a week, then decide to stop performing the tasks. Regularity is key.

Complex Tasks

Many people suffering from traumatic brain injuries find themselves struggling with complex tasks like doing laundry, managing a checkbook, or driving their vehicle. Unfortunately, they may also have trouble recognizing that they are struggling with these tasks. They continue to perform them to the best of their abilities, but it may be up to their friends and families to offer extra support with challenging tasks.

If you or a loved one suffered from a traumatic brain injury, visit the TryMunity community for more information on living with a traumatic brain injury and support from fellow members.