Almost 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year, leaving 80,000 to 90,000 people with the onset of long-term disabilities. However, today, rehabilitation medicine offers better options for treatment and community reentry than ever before, meaning that more people with TBI are able to return to the loving environment of their homes and resume happy and fulfilling lives.
Preparing your home
If your loved one has experienced a TBI, you may be wondering how you should rearrange your home environment. Depending on each unique injury, TBI can impact one’s mood, behavior, capacity to communicate or socialize, physical or cognitive abilities, or sensory perception—and physical and cognitive changes may persist over a period of months or years.
Home safety is of utmost importance after TBI. You should arrange each room to enable your loved one to function as independently as possible. As a general rule, you will need to eliminate clutter, create safe, unobstructed passageways, and create a sense of order to help your loved one perform daily activities. A labeled place for every personal item—such as wallet, phone, and keys—and posted step-by-step instructions for household tasks can help overcome common problems.
Don’t go at it alone
Cay Ambrose, a certified rehabilitation registered nurse (CRRN) at BAYADA Home Health Care, says it’s a good idea to work closely with your hospital discharge planner to make sure that your loved one’s home care needs are met and that your home environment is safe for your loved one’s return. Ambrose is the director of clinical programs for BAYADAbility Rehab Solutions, a specialized program that addresses the needs of individuals with catastrophic conditions and long-term functional deficits. She works to make sure that BAYADA clients living with TBI and other serious conditions are supported through every stage of their journey, from discharge to ongoing community-based care.
“One of the first things you should do is get a professional home evaluation,” says Ambrose. “When BAYADA takes on a new client, we work closely with their doctors and discharge planner to make sure the needs of the client and their family members are met. A clinical manager or CRRN will come to the home to conduct an evaluation and may recommend home modifications or equipment.”
Carefully choose adaptive equipment and assistive technology
When your loved one comes home, you may be surprised and overwhelmed by the variety of home safety and assistive equipment available on the market. There’s adaptive equipment to help with self-care like hair brushing and daily activities such as opening doors and operating appliances. There are assistive devices to address mobility, sensory, or communication problems. Transfer equipment and aids help people get up and down from a chair or bed. The list goes on and on.
“All adaptive equipment needs should be evaluated by a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or CRRN and then prescribed by a physician,” Ambrose tells us. “It may be tempting when you see a good price online, or you’re offered a good deal on second-hand equipment. But remember that adaptive equipment, like a shower chair, is not returnable. Even worse, if it’s in disrepair or not sized right, it’s dangerous and can cause more injury.”
One step at a time
Your family’s adjustments to home life and safety after TBI are bound to be an ongoing process. For help navigating this process, contact BAYADAbility Rehab Solutions at email@example.com. Catastrophic care specialists will be happy to answer your questions.
Original publication: July 2017
Updated publication: March 2022