While there are many reasons a survivor of a traumatic brain injury would choose to join a support group, here are our top six:
- Learn strategies from others on how to live with TBI
Beyond the medical and rehabilitation worlds – which also offer support in how to adjust to life after a TBI – a TBI support group can offer even more practical strategies for survivors with brain injuries. Support groups offer a chance for survivors to help each other and often times it is better to learn from someone who is going through similar struggles. Support groups offer inside perspectives and peer-to-peer strategies and coping skills on how to live after suffering a TBI.
- Gain inspiration from others who have been on your journey and have had some success
Support groups are comprised of people at all stages in the TBI recovery journey. Therefore, besides walking alongside others at the same stage, a TBI survivor can see others who are further along the road and gain inspiration and encouragement. Seeing someone else who has overcome similar challenges can be the catalyst and motivation needed for a survivor to maintain a positive outlook on their own life.
- Know that there is someone there for you to talk to
Attending a group regularly shows TBI survivors that there are others there who will listen when they struggle and offer support when needed. Support groups create an environment where sharing is encouraged and welcome. Knowing there are others out there who will listen when a compassionate ear is needed can alleviate some anxiety over the entire situation, which leads directly into the next reason.
- Minimize anxiety
A traumatic brain injury can cause many anxieties. It is a huge change that affects all aspects of life: physical, social, emotional, and more. It can cause great stress and a huge sense of loneliness, which only exacerbates any anxieties. Attending a support group shows survivors they are not alone and what they are going through is not unusual. The supportive environment of these groups is intentionally created to ease anxieties and help TBI survivors feel comfortable about themselves and their new situations.
- Make new friends who understand you
One of the major struggles after a TBI is navigating both old and new relationships. The dynamics of many existing relationships change after a TBI and forming new relationships can be a challenge. Within a support group there are people who already recognize the unique situations and perspectives of life after a TBI. Whereas old friendships may drop off, these new friendships that develop are with others who understand on a deeper level what it means to survive a traumatic brain injury. These new friendships – outside of extended family or medical professionals – are vitally important to creating the “new normal” after a TBI.
- Feel less alone
A common thread runs through all the above reasons and culminates in this most important reason. Joining a support group helps survivors feel they are less alone. According to research from professors at Brigham Young University, loneliness can have more deadly outcomes than alcohol abuse, excessive smoking, or obesity. Anything a TBI survivor can do to feel less alone will increase their long-term survival and overall quality of life.
While there are numerous reasons for joining a traumatic brain injury support group that could be added to this list, these are our top six. What other reasons would you add? Click the link below to send us a comment!