The Effects of a Brain Injury on Relationships

The Effects of a Brain Injury on Relationships

The effects of a brain injury on relationships can be devastating. Learn more about how to cope with a brain-injured loved one.

Article Written By: Glenna M.
The Effects of a Brain Injury on Relationships

Has someone you love suffered a brain injury? These types of injuries can be difficult to deal with, as often the victim doesn’t recognize changes in his or her behaviour and personality. The lingering effects of a brain injury can damage family relationships, and even break up marriages or lead to estrangement. If you find that your relationship with a family member has become strained following an accident that led to a concussion or traumatic brain injury, consider that that person may still be suffering.


If you suspect that your family member’s behaviour may be affected by his/her brain injury, you should get medical help as soon as possible. These are the types of symptoms that often go unnoticed by doctors, as, being unfamiliar with your loved one, they may not realize that personality changes have occurred.


Coping with the Emotional Effects of Brain Injury

The following can be symptoms of brain injury:

  • Depression. Depression can be a particular problem if the person is having to adjust to a new level of ability or a more limited role in family life or in society. It can also be an effect of damage to the part of the brain that controls the emotions. Some ways to help treat depression include counselling from a mental health professional, anti-depressant medications, or a combination of the two. Exercising on a regular basis and having structure in one’s day can also help to combat depression.


  • Anxiety. People with a brain injury may feel anxious without knowing why; it may be tied to difficulty with reasoning and concentration that occurs following brain injury. Many types of situations can trigger anxiety, including the feeling that they may be making mistakes, being rushed to do something, or being in crowded situations. Anxiety may be tied to PTSD, which can result in the victim fixating on the accident that caused their injury. This can cause insomnia, panic attacks, or other problems. Reducing unnecessary stress can help to alleviate anxiety, as can having a predictable structure to the day. Counselling and certain medications may also help.


  • Anger. It’s been estimated that more than 70% of people affected by brain injury display inappropriate anger. This is likely caused by injury to areas of the brain that control emotion. Anger outbursts can result when victims are feeling isolated or misunderstood, when they are having difficulty concentrating, when they have trouble listening to conversations, remembering or expressing themselves, or when they are tired or in pain. Treatment may involve removing triggers whenever possible, counselling and/or medication, and changing the way you react to the outburst. Understanding that the anger is a side-effect of the person’s injury can be a great help.

Many times, these types of symptoms decrease over time. As the brain heals, the effects of the injury are less and less evident. Consulting a medical professional as soon as possible can help you to diagnose and treat these problems.


Personal Injury Law and Brain Injuries

Often when someone has suffered a brain injury, it has been caused by an accident or incident. Motor vehicle accidents are a major cause of these types of injuries, as are slip-and-falls, sports injuries, combat injuries, and violent encounters. It’s possible that your family may be entitled to compensation for any monetary losses suffered as a result of the incident, as well as for less tangible losses. For example, if it’s your spouse who has suffered the injury, he or she may be unable to work or to provide the contributions to the household that he/she used to. Your family may be eligible for a percentage of his/her former income, reimbursement for medical expenses, plus money to help compensate for the loss of ability to keep house, or look after children, for example. There may also be a basis to award you compensation for loss of companionship and care, or other non-pecuniary damages.


If your loved one has been diagnosed with a brain injury, find out as much as you can about the incident that caused it. Then consult with a personal injury lawyer. Many law firms have a focus on this type of law, and their lawyers have a great deal of experience with insurance claims as well as lawsuits. In Canada, almost all personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that you will not be charged for their services unless/until you receive compensation. This provision helps to ensure that lawyers only take on cases that have a good chance of success. A personal injury lawyer will be able to assess your situation and let you know what your family’s options are.


It can be very difficult to live with the after-effects of a brain injury, for the victim and for the people and relationships surrounding  the victim. Consult with medical personnel and a good personal injury lawyer today.