Author: Drew Sinclair
The New York Times recently published an article by Sarah Wheaton chronicling the difficulties faced by spouses living with a partner who has suffered a brain injury. It’s a good article on an important subject; the challenges these spouses face can easily be overshadowed, and often are, by the awful injuries suffered by their partner.
The difficulties and challenges are born out of the impact brain injuries have on personality. Common impairments include irritability, aggression, social introversion, loss of inhibitions, and fatigue. In addition, cognitive difficulties with organizing thoughts, focusing attention, and language can further undermine mental and emotional health. A spouse who was once warm and caring can become cold and impersonal. A spouse who was once the life of the party can become a quiet loner. Many spouses find themselves living with what feels like a stranger.
A large part of our practice consists of helping people who have suffered severe brain injuries. We’ve sadly seen first-hand over the years many relationships end following a brain injury.
Some spouses find marriage counselling helpful. If your spouse has a brain injury that arose from a motor vehicle accident, counselling may be paid for by statutory accident benefits available from your own insurance company. In addition, there are charitable associations dedicated to helping brain injury survivors and their families
cope with these injuries. There are national, provincial, and local (e.g. Toronto) groups that may be able to provide assistance.