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Severe TBI – Coping with Family Stress

Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries

Families of patients with severe traumatic brain injuries cope with a lot of stress and anxiety due to the unstable nature of the disease, probability of death, and quality of life issues.

Researchers have repeatedly identified families “need to know” more about their family member’s medical condition as the number one factor contributing to stress and anxiety in numerous studies.

Back in 2003, a research team comprehensively analyzed the needs of families with severe TBI taking the following shocking statistics under consideration. TBI occurs in 500,000 persons each year in the United States. Approximately 50,000 of these persons die before they even reach a hospital. Of those that survive, about 80 percent have mild TBIs, and require little, if any care in an intensive care unit, 10 percent have moderate TBIs and may be admitted to the ICU simply for observation, but for the remaining 10 percent who have severe TBI rapid intervention and stabilization can improve survival rate.  (Elaine Bond et. al., Needs of Family Members of Patients With Severe Traumatic Brain Injury: Implications for Evidence-Based Practice, 23 Critical Care Nurse, pp. 63-72 (2003).

Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Family Needs Survey

The team identified families “need to know” information about their family member’s medical condition as the top factor contributing to the stress and anxiety of families. Today, this factor still tops the list, the National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury’s current family needs analysis shows. The current survey of the needs of family members based on a 37-item questionnaire, revealed six scales:

1) Health Information

2) Instrumental Support

3) Community Support Network

4) Emotional Support

5) Professional Support

6) Involvement with Care

Health information may include information about the diagnosis, the treatments, and the rationale for the treatments. The Critical Care Nurse article recommended that a designated health provider meet with family members early on to begin to process the enormity of the injury and continuing challenges.

Our law firm, at Swope, Rodante P.A., has experience handling catastrophic injury cases including both traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries cases.  We understand that these medical conditions are complex and it is often hard for family members and even the patients themselves to find answers and resources for support. Visit our resource center of our website to find helpful answers to your injury-related questions.