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Family Types

bullet"We Have Always Handled Our Own Problems"  This is representative of the private family.  They have always taken care of themselves and their loved ones with little or no assistance from others.  This type of family does very well under most conditions.  If grandma has broken her hip, they will rally to accommodate her needs including allowing her to move in with them if need be.  Head injury, however, is rarely something families are able to handle on their own.   Privacy must be put aside for awhile.  The social worker will appear to be "snooping" but is really only gathering information necessary to best assist in planning for what is needed down the road.  If you are not sure what or how much help you need, consult the doctor, social worker, or any other team member with whom you feel comfortable.
bullet"Life Does Not Give You Anything You Cannot Handle"  Faith is extremely important to some families.  Professionals should never ignore this.   However, important decisions are sometimes stalled or halted while families are relying on someone or something other than the rehabilitation personnel.  Hope for a miracle can be a problem when it interferes with treatment.  It is best to look at the team effort with numerous players needed to reach the goal.  Head injury is often a 3 to 6 month medical crisis.  It is often a lifetime proposition, so use al the help you can get from each of these team members.
bulletDenial  If the doctor and other therapists have told you that your loved one is ready to go back to work, that is one thing.  However, if you have determined that this is the way it must be, or if the patient is telling you that he is going back to work right away, this is representative of denial.  Families often hide the fact that they are in denial.  This type of denial can cause families to miss or ignore important information.  Allow yourself to listen to what others are saying.  It is very difficult for family members to recognize this denial because of its protective quality.  It is helpful at times and allows one to face the huge undertaking at hand.  To determine if you are holding on to false hope you might ask one of the team members that you trust.
bullet"He Will Be Fine Once We Get Him Home"  Families often believe that their loved one will improve significantly once he returns home and back into familiar surroundings.  Sometimes there are positive effects, but seldom of the magnitude expected by hopeful family members.  Initially, he may decline until he acclimates to his new surroundings.  Underlying some of this thinking may be disappointment in the outcome of therapy.  Frustration may develop.  One may wonder if the results may have been different if they had taken him to another rehabilitation center or if they should have taken him home sooner so his loving family could take care of him.  Although there are differences in some rehab. facilities, the degree of recovery is more closely correlated to the degree of injury. 
bullet"Woe Is Me - How Will I Ever Manage?"   This statement is most common to a family who has not established an effective support system within the family.  More often than not, they will constantly ask for help and there will be no cohesive plan for caring for the patient once he is discharged from the unit.  This is usually true because no one in the family thinks they are able to handle all that is needed.  If you fall into this category, ask the social worker, psychologist, or counselor for specific steps on how to prepare for and manage these issues.  Ask for help and accept it when it is offered.
bullet"Oh Only I (You) Had ... If Only I (You) Had Not..."  Some families are so consumed by guilty that they dwell on the past rather than focus on the here and now.  It is normal to look back and have regrets, but it is not normal to allow these feelings to consume one's life.  It is even worse to blame others or make statements which make them feel guilty such as "I can't believe you gave him permission to ..."  This type of guilt is difficult to overcome on your own.   Your facility will have professionals who are trained to assist in helping you turn around these feelings. 
bullet"Our Son Would Do So Much Better If You Would Let Him Have A Nap After Lunch."  This type of statement represents a controlling family.  Individuals who have been accustomed to telling family members what to do and when to do it will have a difficult time relinquishing control over the rehabilitation process.  Also, head injury patients may also tend to exaggerate or embellish their stories which could cause a family to get into an uproar about a transgression which may have been quite minor.  Or the patient may feel he would do better with another speech therapist when in reality the therapist may be asking the patient to do something difficult or frustrating which may cause the patient to want a new, "easier" therapist.  You must let go of your controlling nature.  It is true that you are a member of the team, but you have limited experience in head injury rehabilitation.   It is also true that you know the patient better than anyone else, so take time to share those feelings and knowledge with the social workers and other therapists.  In this way, you may begin a cooperative effort which will make relinquishing power easier.
bullet"Our Lives Are Ruined.  What Will Become Of Us?"  This extremely depressed state will most likely not occur until after the inpatient rehabilitation process.  However, some families may go into deep depression almost immediately - a type of depression which overwhelms and gains inertia over time.  If this happens to you, it should be easy to recognize because you cannot seem to function in terms of making decisions about the future.  You may feel confused, disoriented, and completely fatigued.  Excessive sleep or becoming a couch potato are recognizable signs.  In all likelihood, you will need some type of professional assistance to work through this depression.  Ask the social worker or psychologist for assistance.  If you want to find out more about depression, here are some sites to check out:

Mayo Clinic Information on Depression

Take an online depression screening from NYU