Stages of Recovery can be Emotional for TBI

From Dr. Glen Johnson, Clinical Neuropsychologist and author of The TBI Guide, this article gives valuable insight into the world of traumatic brain injury


We are all different. We all have different family situations, different jobs, different strengths, and different weaknesses. Despite all these differences, there are a number of very common emotional stages that people with a head injury go through. This is based upon my own experience treating patients, but many investigators note similar findings.

Confusion and Agitation

The first phase that I see people going through is a confusion/agitation phase. This can last minutes or it can last for months. I’ve had people get in a car accident and be somewhat dazed for a few minutes, but then direct traffic around their car. Others had been brought into the hospital in a coma requiring intensive medical efforts. When they wake up, they may go through the confusion/agitation phase. In the hospital setting, this is very difficult for family members. Someone who is very meek and mild, for example, can be physically aggressive. They may punch the nurses, or swear and curse at family members. It’s very frightening for family members, and it feels like it is going to last forever. For 99% of the patients that I’ve worked with, this confusion/agitation phase goes away. It may take a while, but people eventually come out of it.
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Important Transfer Techniques

When it comes to caring for patients, knowing how to adapt and work with various abilities is important- especially when it comes to mobility.  There are few really good articles on how to transfer a patient safely (while saving your own back) but the ALS/MDA Organization has a great one.  Here’s the link to the page:

Hope it’s helpful!

Grief & Coping

Loss of a friend, an ability, a treasured item is tough but we all get through it one way or another.  When you’re working with someone who has just been through a traumatic event such as a catastrophic injury, you may notice that they seem a bit “off.”  This may not be a sign of their character- they are likely going through what Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross calls the 5 Stages of Grieving.  Although the video above is a cute representation of these stages, the actual affect of grief and mourning is often more complicated and intense.

This article is among the many you can find to learn more about the Stages of Grief.  It adds two more stages that I think are just as important.  If you are working with a patient or family that seems difficult, depressed, or just out of sorts, this article will help you see things from their perspective.  It was borrowed with thanks from


Understanding Quad vs Para

As a person with a spinal cord injury, I get a lot of questions and looks.  Many people are curious about the adaptive equipment I use, like my “sport” wheelchair (hehe, love that one!) or the hand controls on my truck, but people are almost always surprised to learn that I am a quadriplegic.  “What?! But you can move your arms!”  Paralysis, in many ways, may not be what most expect. Read the rest of this entry

Quadriplegia & Body Temperature Regulation

Did you know that many people with high-level spinal cord injuries cannot regulate their body temperature? Not only that but their bodies do not sweat to cool down or shiver to warm up. It can be a pain in the butt for a person just wanting to get out of the house in the middle of summer or winter. For caregivers, why this happens, how to avoid hypo- and hyperthermia is extremely important (pretty much as important as how to manage autonomic dysreflexia). Even more important than that is how to treat someone who has become overheated or under heated. The excerpt below from Apparelyzed explains what is know as poikilothermia, or variable body temperature.

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SCI function

This article was borrowed from The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Foundation. For this and more articles related to paralysis, please visit or

The location of the spinal cord injury dictates the parts of the body that are affected. After a complete examination, the doctor will assign a level of injury. The doctor will also determine if the injury is complete or incomplete. The level of injury and function may change; the initial level of injury may not be the same level upon discharge to rehabilitation. It is important to remember that these are general guidelines and that individual outcomes will vary. Read the rest of this entry

Hello world!

Welcome and thank you for visiting.  This is the brand new blog for SCI and TBI caregivers and family members.  We are evolving every day so please check back often!  If you have ideas or suggestions for content, please send them to

Thanks!   ~The editor