Depending on the severity of the TBI, the changes can be mild and temporary or permanent and profound. Almost every case of TBI will have some unfortunate effect on the survivor’s closest relationships.
New personality traits can emerge that challenge the status quo between partners. Someone who was previously confident and in charge may become timid and diffident, forcing his or her partner to take the lead in the relationship for the first time.
The balance of power in a relationship can become destabilized. A former wage-earner may now be dependent on a spouse and caregivers for the most basic of tasks while recuperating and rehabilitating. This can be demeaning to them and cause frustrated and angry outbursts at their dependency and physical limitations. Emotional lability can cause tearful episodes that are emotionally draining for all.
The new normal may mean that the spouse of the TBI patient must take on unfamiliar responsibilities that may be burdensome. Mowing the yard, doing household repairs, navigating the family finances, changing diapers and bathing children may all become the responsibility of the TBI patient’s spouse. Resentment and feelings of being overwhelmed are common.
This can also affect the TBI sufferer’s self image. If he prided himself as a take-charge guy who brought home the bacon and shoveled the snow, seeing his wife struggle to do the same strikes a blow to his pride.
The same applies to a mother and homemaker who kept a spotless house and chauffeured perfectly dressed and coiffed kids to activities. Seeing her husband attempt to replicate her abilities is frustrating.
Dealing with the psychological repercussions of a TBI can be a lifelong process. Any proposed settlement for at-fault accidents should include compensation for psychological damages as well as physical.