Problems with the Senses After Brain Injury
Sometimes an injury damages the part of the brain that controls balance, sight, or hearing. Or memory loss may keep a person from remembering certain sights, sounds, smells, or tastes. Some patients have trouble handling abstract ideas, such as time, or they may simply forget what they are doing from one moment to the next.
Problems with sight or sound
If a patient is sensitive to light or has double vision, an eye doctor may suggest sunglasses, prescription lenses, or an eye patch. Some patients lose vision or hearing on only one side. They may be taught to turn the unaffected side of the body toward the action. If a patient has trouble hearing or is confused by background noise, limiting distractions can help.
You can help
- Adjust lighting and window shades for comfort.
- Close the door if the person is bothered by noise.
- Turn off the TV.
Keeping balance and judging distance are common problems. A physical therapist may help a patient sit up, stand, or walk. Some patients may need to use a wheelchair, walker, or cane.
If the patient lives in a multistory home, other changes may be needed. Consider having the patient stay in a bedroom on the ground floor. Adding bars in the bathroom can help the patient stand up safely.
You can help
- Ask the team about your loved one's abilities. Learn to help the person work at a safe skill level.
- Walk with the person. Go slowly.
Dealing with time
Some patients cannot remember from one moment to the next. Others may have trouble planning ahead. Because of this, the rehab team may teach a patient to check a calendar and clocks throughout each day. Patients who can read and write are taught to use diaries or daily planners. Each team member may ask the patient, "What day is it? What time is it? Where do you need to be next?"
You can help
- Try to visit at the same time each day.
- Ask the person which day of the week it is when you arrive.
- Keep a calendar on the wall. Have the person cross off each passing day.
- Use the person's daily planner to note your visits. Write down what you talked about and any decisions reached.
- Bring in a clock that's easy to read. A digital display may be best.
- If the team agrees, get your loved one a watch with an alarm. The alarm can be used to remind the person of meals or rehab sessions.
- Try to accompany the patient to important events, such as medical appointments. If this is not possible, call to remind the patient to go to appointments.
- Use daily pill boxes to organize medications for the patient. This can help with medication compliance.