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Life after a brain injury can be life-altering for both the person who has sustained the injury and their partner. Although partners of those with a brain injury may not have sustained any physical injuries themselves, they often experience unexpected emotional and psychological challenges in the wake of the injury.

As a partner of someone who has suffered a brain injury, you may feel overwhelmed by the vast array of unforeseen challenges that you now face. This blog article aims to explore the unique challenges that partners encounter when their loved one is living with a brain injury.

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Challenges you may find

Recovery following a brain injury is challenging both for the survivor and their partner. To add to the challenge, the partner often is faced with little to no support despite often becoming responsible for all or part of the caregiving duties.

These changes can cause feelings of isolation, longing for the past, and sadness, but if the survivor continues to recover or learns to cope and learns to take responsibility for his or her independence, these feelings can decrease. As time passes, some relationships actually strengthen.


How your relationship might be affected

Injury may result in drastic alterations to a couple’s lifestyle, thereby affecting their relationship as a whole. Here are a few common occurrences.

Communication challenges

A brain injury survivor may find it hard to find the right words, comprehend, or express their thoughts with speech. Additionally, understanding and employing nonverbal communication like body language and facial expressions might prove to be difficult.

Making oneself understood can be very difficult in everyday conversations, taking longer to get one’s point across.

Changes in personality

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) often produces a significant change in a person’s personality. Such alterations are typically observed by their partner, who might feel as if they are not with the same individual that they originally chose to be with.

Even the brain injury survivor may experience shifts in how they feel towards their partner and the relationship as a whole.

Intimacy changes

Intimacy can be thought of as a powerful connection between two individuals that may involve physical, emotional, and psychological intimacy as well as romantic feelings.

Nonetheless, it can be disrupted by things like an absence of insight or feelings of resentment.

Changes in behaviour

Survivors can often exhibit behaviour that can be deemed socially inappropriate, such as profanity or making remarks that are not socially accepted in public settings.

This type of conduct can be a source of frustration, humiliation, and even grief for their partners. It is especially hurtful and awkward when sexual innuendos or offensive words are spoken.

Cognitive challenges

Following a brain injury, changes to cognitive ability are a common occurrence, affecting thinking skills. Difficulties with attention, multitasking, and decision-making can have a detrimental effect on relationships, both practically and emotionally.

Practical challenges

Due to their injury, the survivor might not be able to work or drive, requiring certain lifestyle adjustments. Moreover, they may no longer be able to partake in activities that the couple previously shared together, as well as bring in an income if the two had been financially interdependent.

Changes to your roles

Significant life adjustments may be necessary as a result of an injury, such as the non-injured partner taking on more responsibility for managing the household budget. This can create stress for the non-injured partner and could cause the survivor to experience lowered self-esteem.

“All the odds were stacked up against us”

Brain injury association Headway sat down with couple, Thalia and Matt from Cambridgeshire to talk about their story and reflect on their experience together.

They both note that even though they have encountered numerous challenges, their connection is ever-evolving, and they are consistently communicating with each other.

They reflect on their story of love – from the gladness they experience together to the tribulations of being both partner and caretaker.

Watch their video!

Here at INPA we are a group of independent specialist health and social care providers, who share the common goal of ensuring the delivery of excellent care in neurorehabilitation.

We think everyone has the right to access neurorehabilitation care, by specialists who care about people’s individual goals and aspirations.

So if your loved one has recently suffered a brain injury and you would like to find out more then get in touch!

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