Helping children come to terms with a sibling’s Traumatic Brain Injury
Chances are unless you work in the medical or legal profession until a friend or family member sustained one, you will not have heard the term ‘traumatic brain injury’ (TBI).
Because brain injuries cannot be seen and continue long after the physical injury has healed, they are difficult to understand, and this is especially true for children whose brother or sister have been injured in this way.
It is important to remember, just how the injured child will heal in their own way, siblings will adjust differently too. Some will adapt to the situation much more easily whilst others find the drastic change of circumstances very difficult to deal with.
As parents, it is very easy to become absorbed in caring for your injured child, but below are some tips for making sure that siblings are not left in the dark when it comes to TBI.
When one of your children is seriously injured, there will be a lot of information to take on board. But many children in families affected by TBI report feeling ‘out of the loop’, like their parents are holding back on information and this can make them feel uninvolved and unimportant, even forgotten about.
Keep talking to your children about what has happened. Explain what doctors have told you in simple terms.
It’s natural to worry about bombarding your children with what can seem like scary information, or knowing whether they are old enough to cope with certain information, but generally speaking, honesty is the best policy. If you don’t know the answer to their questions, say so, and perhaps suggest you can ask the doctor together when you next see them.
Make sure that your children feel like they can talk to you if they have any worries or questions – chances are they will have many!
Sometimes, they might be embarrassed by the new, strange behaviour of their injured sibling, and discussing this behaviour and why it is happening will teach them to explain it to others, and stop them from feeling anxious about talking to friends about the situation.
Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. Sometimes talking to other family members can be helpful and will help them to feel like they have a voice. Remember there is no shame in feeling sad or worried; it is completely natural to do so when a loved one has suffered a serious injury.
Set a good example by talking about how you’re feeling about the situation as this can encourage them to open up and discuss their worries with you.
Maintain a good balance
As difficult as it may seem, try to maintain a degree of regularity with your other children. Make sure they go to school on time, and that their usual life is not interrupted any more than necessary. If they go to a swimming club on Monday evenings or Scouts on a Friday evening, try to stick to the same routine so their life is not side-lined.
Also take an interest in what they have been doing that day, just as you normally would, so that they don’t feel ‘left out’.
Accepting help from other family members and friends will help you to maintain this equilibrium. If someone offers to pick them up from school so you are not rushing between appointments, take them up on it! Remember that you and your family need to live your lives too – it will actually help your injured child to adjust if a degree of normal family life is maintained.
These are some basic tips for coping with a son or daughter whose sibling has a Traumatic Brain Injury. It goes without saying that each family is different, and will adapt differently. But remember you are not alone. There are many fantastic charities out there who can offer support and advice, based on first-hand experience. These include The Children’s Trust and the Child Brain Injury Trust, both of whom help families where children have suffered a brain injury. On their websites, you will find forums to discuss your experiences with other families and details for local support groups where you can meet other families who are going through the same situation as you.
If your child has suffered a brain injury in an accident, there may be life-long care considerations to think about. Making a serious injury compensation claim could ensure that you and your child have the support and finances necessary to move forward.
At CFG Law we have a unique approach to brain injury claims, and we put our clients and their needs at the heart of everything we do. We pioneer a proactive and early assessment of needs, working with leading consultants, case managers and healthcare professionals who are experts in the field of child brain injury. We will help arrange an early and bespoke package of treatment and rehabilitation. Statistics prove that the earlier someone is put onto the correct treatment path, the better recovery they will make.
At CFG Law we can also look for early interim (compensation) payments to cover the cost of adaptations to your home or vehicle and arrange for care at home to support you and your family long-term. Interim payments can also ensure that any financial difficulties are reduced if you need to take time off work to care for your injured child.
When a child is injured, life-long considerations must be made and we are here to support you every step of the way.
Of course, no amount of money can ever compensate for serious injuries and the implications these have, but we will make sure that your child has access to the very best medical care and the financial means to live as fulfilling a life as possible.