FamilyOfaVet - Real world info about PTSD, TBI, & life after combat
FamilyOfaVet - Real World info about PTSD, TBI, & life after combat.

TBI Coping Skills from "the trenches"
(sort of)

Recently I took a swan dive due to ice into a door giving myself an awful head injury and
scaring most of my relatives halfway to their deaths.  Fortunately, I will be fine and all is
expected to recover in time.  Unfortunately in the short term I have gotten an up close and
personal look at what life with
TBI is really like from the inside.

I have always tried to be very understanding of my husband and his TBI but I can now
definitely state my "help" has been from the cheap seats.  By nature I'm a problem solver
and giving up my life to succumb to
traumatic brain injury just isn't an option.  It took
about a month, but I've learned several wonderful coping mechanisms that a doctor has
never recommended to us in all these years.  It turns out there are some very valuable
things that you can to do make coping with TBI easier be it permanent or short term...and
you'll be happy to know many of them are very low cost!


While the headaches that come with TBI are often inevitable, there are some interesting
ways to reduce them.  The primary culprit for many
TBI patients is bright light.  
Unfortunately in our society glare from bright light is everywhere - from the snow on the
ground to the sun in the sky, from your computer screen to your tv it's nearly impossible to
avoid glare.

Look into sunglasses with anti-reflective (also called anti-glare) coating.  I found them for
less than $15 at Kmart, Walmart, and other budget stores.  They may not be the most
attractive things on the planet, but they sure do the trick!  I can spend all day out in glaring
light and it doesn't bother me a smidge!

For those of us who aren't outside often, non-prescription or prescription clear lenses with
this same coating is a miracle worker.  Our optometrist highly recommended also putting
Scotchguard on them because this coating makes them very difficult to clean.  Adding this
coating to my glasses was rather expensive, but often your insurance will cover part or all
of the cost.

Another great help on this is when you notice the brightness is starting to effect you,
CLOSE YOUR EYES!  Seriously.  Stop, sit down, close your eyes and cover them with
whatever you have handy - even your hands!  By completely blocking out all the light, even
for a few minutes, you can give yourself some relief and help to reset your brain so it's not
so painful.

Excessive Noise

It's amazing what I hear now.  I'm already "audio sensitive" but the brain injury has
aggravated it to the point that the slightest noise can now be absolutely exasperating.

Solution?  MP3 player!

Okay - so I can't walk around with headphones plugged in 24/7, but I can have it on when
it's getting to be too much.  A small MP3 player fits in my pocket/purse and I can keep my
cheap noise cancelling headphones in there as well.  (
Check THIS LINK.  If you have PTSD
or TBI, you maybe able to get a VA issued PDA/iPod for this purpose!) When the world
gets to be too much on the noise front, I turn on the tunes. :)  I can't tell you how many
headaches this has saved me.

Depth Perception

Who knew that having a TBI makes you have a difficult time with depth perception?  I spent
the first few days re-injuring myself while I bumped into everything on the planet and
became a pile of bruises!

Solution?  Kids!

Okay - so you can't always do this, but until you get used to navigating your new world or
when your TBI is just awful, having your child hold your hand is a HUGE help.  They will
stop walking before they hit the wall in new environments.  They also will keep you from
walking into glass which is now difficult to see.  Another great thing my son helped me with
was helping me out with chopping vegetables and fruit in the kitchen.  He was a life saver!


Having a child with Sensory Processing Disorder I already knew the importance of comfort,
but I had no idea how difficult it was to concentrate when it's full blown in yourself.  
Unfortunately this meant a nearly complete revamping of my wardrobe!!

Stick to soft fabrics - and be sure to check the inside of the garment for softness!  That's
the part that's going to be touching you anyway.  Be sure it's possible to completely
remove any itchy tags and for those "tags" that are silk screened onto the inside of a
shirt/pants, make sure you check them for softness as well.   Watch for anything too tight
or too loose.

Oh - and don't be surprised if little things bother you - like the texture of your pillowcases.  
Don't be afraid to go and grab some with a higher thread count or made with microfiber
cloth.  It makes a huge difference in the comfort level.

I hope my hopefully brief journey into
traumatic brain injury land has been helpful for all
of you.  At the very least I can now definitely say that I understand what it feels like.  As I
learn more, I'll try to keep all of you updated!

This article was written by our own Heather Hummert, the wife of an OIF Veteran & Purple
Heart Recipient, and Contributions Coordinator for our site.  If you would like to contact
Heather directly, you can e-mail her at Heather -at- or
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