by Linda W. Arms, dated January 17, 2013
This is for family, friends, caregivers and the many people who are part of providing medical services to those with brain injuries. First of all, thank you for your care and concern during our journeys from our brain injury event to where we find ourselves today. It is not easy for you either since you probably have to do a lot more because of things we aren’t able to do. You also have to have an extreme amount of patience. It is not an easy job. We want you to understand us but sometimes it hard to know ourselves.
Comprehending what is said to us is a big problem for many of us with a brain injury. The words coming at us often don’t sink in for a variety of reasons. This makes it difficult for us to understand what is being said and it can be very fatiguing and frustrating. Once we’re “brain fatigued” everything else is difficult until we have a chance to recover.
Here are some very friendly reminders to make communication easier for us:
- Speak slowly – my injured brain has to hear the words and also process them. My brain can’t keep up with what’s coming at me if words are coming too fast. I have to make my brain work a lot harder to keep up with a fast pace (sometimes I don’t even try).
- Speak clearly – it takes a lot more brain processing to hear the words when someone is mumbling or speaking towards a different direction so sound is not coming straight at us. Someone with a brain injury may have to spend a lot of brain energy just to hear the sounds let alone process what the words mean.
- Get to the point more directly without meandering into other side topics – The injured brain may have problems remembering what was said 60 seconds ago especially if unfamiliar topics are being discussed. We are trying to keep track of the conversation but if there is a roundabout presentation of the topic of discussion we will often get lost. I have found myself trying to remember what seems to be important points but the speaker is going off in other directions. My poor brain is working hard just to remember those points as other words are coming at me that don’t seem to be part of the main topic.