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Brain injuries can lead to behavioural problems

A brain injury can do far more than physical harm. It can have a significant -- and often unpredictable -- impact on someone's behaviour.

Behavioural problems can result not only from the injury to the brain itself, but from issues related to the injury. For example:

-- The person may suffer from emotional distress due to the event that caused the injury (such as a car accident or a violent act).

-- The medication the person is taking to help treat the symptoms of the injury or resulting pain may cause changes to behaviour. Just being in constant pain can cause behavioural changes.

-- If the person has to take time off work or otherwise limit activities, it can result in boredom and frustration.

"Problem behaviours" resulting from a brain injury can include difficulty controlling anger and other impulses. It can also cause inappropriate actions in social settings or with friends and family that can lead to social withdrawal.

There are ways that you can help minimize these problem behaviours and make life a little easier for everyone. For example:

-- Provide routine, structure and consistency in their lives as much as possible. It can be reassuring for brain injury victims to know what to expect each day. If the person's routine has to change, be sure to take the time to prepare them for the change by explaining what will be happening. -- Emphasize repetition. The injured person may have difficulty doing things, mentally or physically, that they once did. Often, these skills are regained through repetition. -- Don't expect more from the person than he or she can handle. Set responsibilities and challenges that are appropriate for his or her ability at each stage of recovery.

Of course, it's essential to consult with the medical professionals treating your loved one regarding his or her care at home. Brain injuries often require a team of mental health professionals, physical therapists and others to help them recover as fully as possible. This care could be short-term or may be required for years. That's why it's essential to factor that in to any settlement you seek from those who may be at fault for the injury.

Source: Brainstreams.ca, "Managing Problem Behaviours," accessed April 20, 2016

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