The Caregiver's Journey
Patients and caregivers can sometimes suffer from fatigue during TBI recovery. The group discusses this challenge, along with some tips on how to recognize and manage fatigue.
At first, when Sam wasn’t sleeping much, we were just all so exhausted. I worried about how the fatigue would affect Sam’s healing. He was just so agitated, and he … he didn’t understand what was happening to him. The fatigue was literally etched onto his face.
That’s a good point. Yeah, fatigue is a common complaint among people with TBI. Just like the body, the brain needs a huge amount of energy for healing after a traumatic injury. And, as we’ve just learned, sleep patterns can be totally disrupted, especially in the first weeks and months after the injury.
For most people, fatigue gradually lessens over time while stamina and endurance improve. And for others, their endurance is just not what it used to be so … so they have to pace themselves more than they did before the injury.
So when the time comes, will there be anything I can do to help Clay with that?
Oh, well, sure. You can help him pace himself. You can encourage him to conserve energy for those important tasks of the day, like physical therapy. Setting up a daily schedule can be a huge help.
Now since regular exercise will increase stamina, his physical therapist will work with you to develop a safe exercise program, based on his abilities of course.
Yeah it’s just hard to imagine him exercising right now. I just want him to wake up.
I know ... it just takes time.
Well, Sam had a lot of problems with fatigue. Even before he would say anything, we could tell that he was tired.
Yeah, he would be so irritable and angry. He’d start to yell, and sometimes his face would even start to droop. His confusion would be so much worse when he was fatigued.
How did you handle that?
Well, it helped to make a list of Sam’s signs of fatigue, and when they happened. That way, we could work his schedule around it, like setting important appointments for times when he was the most awake.
And based on that list, we noticed there were particular times of day when he was most fatigued, so we blocked those times out for rest.
That’s a great idea. Now that Tom’s awake more, and he showing more signs of fatigue, I’m gonna start keeping a list.
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