The Covid-19 pandemic has caused devastation worldwide and few people have been left unaffected by the consequences. It is a confusing and emotionally destabilising crisis that does not discriminate. However, some members of society are more vulnerable than others and those who have suffered an acquired brain injury are particularly at risk because of the dramatic social changes caused by the virus.
It is recognised that those with traumatic brain injury respond positively to routine and so anything that threatens their familiar life can have a detrimental psychological and emotional effect. Covid-19 can be particularly unsettling if a person with an acquired brain injury has impaired insight in to both their condition and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on society.
One very apparent consequence of the Covid-19 outbreak is the requirement to socially isolate. For those with a brain injury this can mean being cut off from their support outside the immediate family, as well as disruption to their routine and normal way of life. There is still much that is unknown about the consequences of the Coronavirus and each person will have a unique set of circumstances and will be affected in different ways.
The Child Brain Injury Trust has identified some of the potential effects on children with acquired brain injury. These include:
- The child develops issues with negative behaviours and returns to behaviours that were present in the early stages of their injury
- Increased sibling rivalry
- Sleep issues
- Emotional consequences from missing their teacher and friends at school
- Anxiety about when they may see wider family members again;
- Increased anxiety in relation to their own health;
- Negative changes in the child’s mood and behaviour if their routine is upset by being away from school and friends, as well as being deprived of their usual activities.
- Inability to access therapeutic support and help from carers and support workers.
Many of these consequences can apply to all children but they are likely to be more profound in those with a brain injury.
The Child Brain Injury Trust has also provided some useful advice, based on the experiences of those supporting children with brain injury, to help address some of these negative consequences. These include:
- Giving your child more time with lots of affection
- Providing reassurance with simple language to address their concerns about the Coronavirus, which they may have heard about on the news but not fully understand.
- Develop some new “at home” routines.
- Have a schedule for the week so as a family you know what is happening
- Involve the child in planning the activities for the day – what would their ideal day be? What would they like to do that doesn’t include public places? Where would they like to go? Who do they/don’t they want to see or do?
- Try to keep to usual mealtimes and bedtimes
- Prepare a visual timetable of what will be happening each day
- If you do have to go anywhere explain where you are going, why, who will be there, and what to expect
- Explain the severity without causing anxiety – especially if your child lacks insight
- Children who lack insight often find it hard to accept new concepts, so it is best to keep reiterating why things are different and why routines have changed.
- Try to focus on making happy memories with your family about this unusual time, try to make the most of this period of being together
Other useful resources can be found through the brain injury charity Headway, who also offer a helpline to individuals and families affected by brain injury who need support and guidance during these challenging times.
Talk to our brain injury specialists today.
Talk to IBB's specialist brain injury solicitors for legal advice on dealing with life after a serious injury. For more information just give us a call on 0333 123 9099 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .