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Traumatic Brain Injuries and Dependencies

  • Published: 2009-08-26 (Revised/Updated 2012-09-21) : Author: Sylvia Behnish
  • Synopsis: Following a traumatic brain injury the survivor may become dependent upon those close to them.

Main Document

Following a traumatic brain injury, the survivor may become dependent upon those close to them. These dependencies may be emotional in nature or based on a substance abuse. Whatever dependency is involved, it can lead to difficulties in recovering from the injury.

Some of the emotional problems that can lead to dependency are;

All of these things can lead to feelings of powerlessness. And for this reason they will often become emotionally dependent upon someone close to them. There is another type of dependency called learned helplessness or learned dependency which will sometimes come about when someone helps beyond the point where help is actually needed.

With frontal lobe injuries there may also be a difference in emotional intelligence post-injury versus pre-injury.

This is quite different from intellectual intelligence. Emotional intelligence relates to emotional self-awareness, the ability to recognize others' emotions, feelings of independence, and the ability to get along with others. Difficulty in these areas can lead to dependency on others, particularly a caregiver.

Another dependency may be that of substance abuse.

Sixty-seven percent of those with brain injuries have a history of substance abuse pre-injury and fifty percent of those will return to using alcohol following their injury. However, substance abuse can often be a result of boredom and loneliness also. With the use of alcohol and drugs after a brain injury, there is an increased risk of seizures as well as the risk of sustaining further brain injuries.

But there are many others who will fight for their independence.

i.e.: they will drive before they have been given the 'go ahead' to drive; will refuse to go to therapy appointments; will feel increased anger if they are personally, socially or financially limited, as well as if they are deprived of privacy. Also those who need help physically may resent the help they receive if they think they should be able to do it themselves.

Regardless of whether they have become dependent or are fighting for their independence, it is important to remember that there are no two brain injuries that are the same and each person will react differently to their circumstances.

Reference: Sylvia Behnish has published her first non-fiction book entitled "Roller Coaster Ride With Brain Injury (For Loved Ones)" which tells of their journey during the first year following her partner's motorcycle accident. She has also had numerous articles published in magazines and newspapers in both Canada and the United States.

To order "Roller Coaster Ride With Brain Injury (For Loved Ones)" go to:

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