Carers Program
Carers Program

Caring for someone with an acquired brain injury (abi)

Caring for someone with an ABI is known to be one of the most difficult Caring roles a person can have. Brain injury can be present at birth (congenital) or happen at any point in someone's life (acquired) - this page is about Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).

 If you are caring for someone with a brain injury, you would be aware that brain injuries can affect both a person's physical and mental state. A previously fully functioning, independent person can become quite disabled by a brain injury, which can create many challenges for you as a Carer.

An ABI can be traumatic or non-traumatic. Traumatic brain injury is damage to the brain caused by something outside the body, such as a motor vehicle accident, assault or a fall. As a result of the traumatic injury, the brain may be torn, stretched, penetrated, bruised or become swollen, possibly affecting one or more areas.

ABI can also occur as a result of a non-traumatic event such as tumour, infection, aneurysm (a localized, blood-filled balloon-like bulge in the wall of a blood vessel) or decrease in oxygen (anoxia) to the brain.

Both forms of brain injury can reduce a person's state of consciousness, their thinking abilities, or their physical functioning. Injury to the brain may also cause a change in personality or a disturbance to behavioural or emotional functioning.

Changes after brain injury can include:

  • Challenging behaviour
  • Emotional unpredictability
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Easily confused and overwhelmed
  • Problems in learning new information
  • Problems remembering new information
  • Slower at processing information
  • Problem-solving, planning and organising difficulties
  • Stuck on ideas and fixed patterns of thinking
  • Difficulty starting activities

Depending on the kind and severity of the brain injury, you and the person for whom you care may need to make many adjustments, especially if the person was previously fully independent and functional before the injury.

The Brain Injury Association (BIA) of NSW (see Important Links) is a support network for people with an acquired brain injury. It recognises the special challenges faced by people with a brain injury and their Carers. Part of its role is to help people adjust to the changes in their lives caused by the injury.

Services offered include advocacy, information and referral, support group information, and a CarerLink program.

CarerLink Program
This program partners an experienced Carer of a brain-injured person (mentor), with another person who has only recently become a Carer (mentee). Mentors offer peer support to family members and Carers of a person who has had a brain injury. The program allows people to share information about similar experiences and challenges. Mentors can pass on their support, knowledge and coping skills to mentees, and mentees can meet people who can empathise with their situation, and increase their knowledge about strategies and resources available. These programs have been found to help the adjustment process, reduce stress and increase coping skills.

Advocacy Services
The Individual Advocacy Service can help brain injury survivors and Carers push for better services, assist with the navigation of these services as well as provide support and advice when making a complaint.

Information and Referral
BIA has a library, newsletters, seminars and website, to give information on topics that affect the everyday lives of brain injury survivors. The referral service provides links to service providers.

Training
The BIA NSW provides relevant and ongoing education and training for members, staff and service providers and Carers. Training topics include understanding brain injury, managing challenging behaviour, community linking and managing Carer stress. For more information, contact mail@biansw.org.au

Contact Details
BIA NSW
Suite 102, Level 1, 3 Carlingford Road (corner of Rawson Street)
EPPING NSW 121
Phone: 9868 5261or;
Freecall: 1800 802 840
Email: mail@biansw.org.au

Important Links
www.biansw.org.au

The information on these web pages is drawn from the above website