What NOT to Say to Someone with a Brain Injury

Young man with trauma of the head

While it is natural to want to say something like an advice, opinion or suggestion to people who are going through something, it is best to keep certain things to ourselves – especially when we do not fully understand the situation.


When caring for a loved one with a brain injury, it is easy to get burnt out and say certain things out of frustration. This is something no one wants but still, happens.


So, do you want to avoid saying things that are not helpful? Here are some of the statements you should NOT say:


“You seem okay to me.”

Brain injuries have invisible signs – memory and concentration problems, chronic pain, fatigue, depression, insomnia, or anxiety. These invisible signs are sometimes more difficult to live with than visible ones. Your loved one might look normal, but you should not shrug off the invisible signs or you might let your loved one feel belittled. Don’t you think a memory problem can be more disabling than a limp?


“You’re such a grump!”

Anyone with a brain injury is irritable as irritability is one of the most common signs. It can be a direct result of the brain injury, or it can also be a side effect of anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, chronic pain, or fatigue. Yes, it is challenging to live with someone who is moody, grumpy, or angry all the time but certain supplements, prescription drugs, changes in diet, or therapy can help to reduce irritability. The bottom line is: help them cope.


“Let me do that for you.”

You want to be as supportive as you can be when helping someone who has a brain injury. However, independence and control are two of the most important things that victims of brain injury lose. It might be easier to do things for them instead, but you should also encourage your loved one to do things on their own. This helps promote self-esteem, confidence, as well as the quality of living. It also helps the brain to recover faster.


“How many times do I have to tell you?”

As frustrating as it is to keep repeating yourself over and over, keep in mind that victims of brain injuries are expected to experience some memory problems. Instead of giving repetitive instructions, you can find a solution to make the task easier. You can create a routine or install a memo board in the kitchen. Be careful with not just your words, but your facial expressions, too.


“You’re lucky to be alive.”

Although this statement might sound like positive thinking or looking on the bright side of things, you should be careful when using it. A person with a brain injury is more likely to have suicidal thoughts than a person without a brain injury. So, instead of using “luck”, you can instead talk about how persistent, strong, or heroic they are for getting through their ordeal.


If you or someone you love is suffering from a brain injury and needs legal assistance, setup an appointment with us today.

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