CEMM Virtual Library

The Caregiver's Journey


Most people with severe TBI experience some confusion after their injury. It is expected. Sometimes confusion only lasts minutes. Other times, it can last days or even weeks.

Keeping your family member safe, reminding him or her about what’s going on, and offering reassurance are important during this stage of recovery.

What you might see:

  • Disorientation (not sure of where he or she is, time of day, what has happened)
  • Seems in a fog, staring blankly
  • Confusing times/tasks in schedule of activities
  • Confusing past and present events
  • Making up convincing stories to fill memory gaps. This is called confabulation.

How you can help:

  • Keep your family member oriented. Put calendars, clocks, family pictures, and/or a sign about where he or she is and what has happened, in his or her room. A list of healthcare team members and what each one does may also be useful.
  • Use a notebook to plan for and log events. Have your family member refer to it for details of daily events.
  • Frequently remind your service member/veteran of correct details of past and present events.
  • Limit changes and provide structure in a daily routine.

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