Your family member may not be aware of how the TBI has affected him or her. He or she may also not understand how it affects others.
Self-awareness means understanding our own strengths and weaknesses. Our sense of self-awareness is housed in the frontal lobe of the brain.
A reduced sense of self-awareness is a hallmark effect of TBI. Your family member may say very little has changed. He or she is not deliberately denying there is a problem. People with TBI simply do not understand that they are having problems.
Self-awareness usually improves with time and feedback from others. People with TBI learn from their successes and failures, just as we all do.
What you might see:
- Underestimating the problem areas related to TBI
- Not understanding why rehabilitation therapies are needed
- Not following the recommendations of the healthcare team (i.e., driving restrictions, no alcohol)
- Unrealistic expectations about future plans or abilities
- Inaccurate self-perception or self-image
How you can help:
- Learn how to use safe, “supported risk taking” techniques from the healthcare team. This method allows the person to try to do something that he thinks he can do but that may be beyond his capabilities. The goal is to raise the person’s awareness through real trial and error situations.
- Work with your service member/veteran to use effective problem-solving techniques.
- Give realistic and supportive feedback.
- Help to set realistic goals. Develop plans to take steps towards larger goals.
- Use a memory notebook to track progress and setbacks.