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Managing Physical Effects of TBI

TRANSCRIPT

ALAN
Ladies, let’s get started. How was traffic?

KARA
It wasn’t too bad today. 

ALAN
It can be crazy this time in the morning. 

KARA
Yeah, that’s true.

ALAN
Thank you Kara and Addie for coming in. How are you two holding up since I last saw you?

KARA
We’re hanging in there. Right, Addie?

ADDIE
Yeah.

ALAN
How’s Brock?

KARA

He’s making some improvements. He’s recognizing more people and starting to talk a little more.

ALAN
That’s great! Now listen, those might feel like small steps, but they are huge victories.

KARA
I know. But he is having some difficulty with his balance. He really can’t even walk on his own.

ADDIE
Yeah, he almost fell on me.

KARA
It’s really frustrating for him. I mean between that and the headaches…

ALAN
I understand. It’s hard seeing someone you care about in pain. Feeling like there’s nothing you can do to take the pain away. But there are things you can do to help Brock. Now as you’re finding out, there are a number of physical effects from a TBI. Unfortunately, no two TBIs are the same, so it’s impossible to anticipate exactly what symptoms may appear and when. But the good news is that some of the effects of the TBI can and will improve.

KARA
Well, his doctor did prescribe some medication for his headaches, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. Is there anything else that Addie and I can be doing? Because it’s not just that his head hurts. And he’s extremely tired because sometimes the pain is so bad he can’t get any sleep. And I think that’s making the other issues like slurred speech that much more difficult to cope with.

ALAN
Oh I’m sure. And it can be a cycle right? Fatigue and stress can result from the headache, but they can also make the headaches worse. So stress management can really effectively minimize the number of headaches he has and how severe they are.

KARA
Okay, so stress management. So, should I get him like a stress balls?

ALAN
Well, you can try some deep breathing exercises with him. You can have him find a dark, quiet place to lie down when he has a headache. Make sure he’s exercising, but not too much. Not to the point where it makes his headaches worse. Maybe even offer him a shoulder rub to relax his muscles.

KARA
Addie’s good at that, aren’t you?

ADDIE
Really good.

ALAN
Well, I’d say he’s in good hands then. There are other things Brock can do, well that you can encourage him to do, in terms of behavior. Avoiding bright sunlight, wearing dark sunglasses can be helpful. He should avoid alcohol and certain foods that tend to trigger headaches, like cold foods, some cheeses, and, unfortunately, chocolate. For some people, caffeine can trigger a headache, but for others, caffeine helps keep headaches at bay.

But one important thing to use is your journal to keep track every time a headache occurs. Make note of the time of day, the activities he’s doing, anything he ate or drank before it started, the intensity and duration of the headache. It’ll help you figure out possible headache triggers and what to avoid. Now if the headaches don’t improve or if they get worse, be sure you let Brock’s doctor know.

KARA
Okay. So what about the balance issue? I mean, he is going to physical therapy, but…

ALAN
Well, you can work with Brock’s physical therapist to learn the best ways to help him when he’s sitting or when he’s walking. Now, if you have throw rugs in your home you have to get rid of those. It’s really easy for him to trip or slip on things like that. And make sure that he’s using any walking aids – like a cane or a walker that his specialists had prescribed – make sure he’s using those properly. Basically just keep an eye on him.  Make sure he doesn’t fall and get another TBI. Now that might mean asking other people to come in to supervise him if you need to step out or go somewhere.

KARA
Okay.

ADDIE
Okay.