High Hopes Head Injury Program
Monday, June 26, 2017

Help avoid frustration

Too much stimulation can be very frustrating for the survivor. Control the environment as much as possible and try to keep it a positive atmosphere. Recognize that stimulation is needed in moderate doses. May be thinking at a much slower speed and may require more attention and concentration to do the task at hand. The survivor may have to think about things that they could do automatically prior to the accident. Allow them enough time to work through their thoughts and actions. If a survivor experiences too much stimulation, he may “shut down”. Other reactions that can be exhibited by the survivor are crying or becoming combative. If this happens, a quiet environment and rest may be helpful. Try to remain calm and be matter-of-fact. Don’t take the reaction personal.

Keep conversations short, directed, and do not make assumptions. Speak to the survivor in an age-appropriate manner and about topics that promote normal interest. Conversation is important to the survivor. Even if he is unable to speak, try to keep the social environment as normal as possible. Speak clearly use a normal tone and volume. Use short, simple sentences. Ask one question at a time. Allow the survivor more time than usual to process what you have said and to respond. Remember to look at the survivor when speaking to him. Don’t talk to him as if he was not in the room. Even if they aren’t able to respond verbally to you (be positive) they may be listening and understanding what you are saying. The survivor is entitled to every spoken and unspoken sign of respect. Questions with a “yes” or “now” answer may be easier for the survivor to process. For example “are you tired?” rather than “would you like a nap or to watch T.V.?” 

Speaking may be difficult for the survivor. Give the survivor time to search for the word that he wants to say. Supply the word if frustration is apparent. Support and encourage the survivor’s communication efforts. If the survivor loses his place in conversation, gently give him clues about the topic. Please remember that difficulty in finding a word does not mean that the survivor has lost intelligence.