Posted on January 19, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 17 of 19 in the series Angela

Impaired Relationships After Traumatic Brain Injury: Part Seventeen of Angela’s Story

Impaired Relationships After Traumatic Brain Injury is another issue Angela faces. If Angela can’t work, can she at least be a wife, a domestic partner?  Sadly, this is another role that despite her best efforts has proven to be too cognitively and emotionally challenging for her.

I want to be everything to (my partner) and I know how to.  I am actually really good at knowing when somebody is struggling or has a challenge that they’re overcoming and I know how to fix their problem, but in doing so I don’t pay attention to my own at all problems.

I was 100 percent committed to this relationship and whatever was needed in that relationship so if I’m supposed to go to a party or an event, I can’t for whatever reason plan to do something else before that because I’m so concerned about making sure that I’m available when this other thing happens, and so a relationship for me eventually, if that ever becomes something that’s realistic, a partner’s going to have to be able to help me, almost as if kind of like a kid.

Damaged Frontal Lobe Causes Impaired Relationships After Traumatic Brain Injury

Impaired relationships after traumatic brain injury are just another obstacle that brain injured survivors face. We learn to become adults in a frontal lobes through a generation long development of social skills, understanding other people and empathy. As we learn to become adults there, we can also lose our capacity to fully function as an adult because of an injury to the frontal part of our brain.  This proves to be the most illusive aspect of treating the brain injured survivor because there is no Ipad program called “Maturity.”

I mean I need somebody that kind of provides me guidance on what is realistic to accomplish in a day because if there was a choice of things to do and one takes care of the person, my partner, and one takes care of me, I’m going to take care of the person because I’m not really sure about what I’m supposed to do for me.

The need to love and be loved is not eliminated by a brain injury, just made so much more difficult because of impaired relationships after Traumatic Brain Injury.

I want to know that I did something and I did it well, and loving is one thing I know I can do well.

Intimacy is one of the most troubling areas of deficit in the brain injured person. To be a good lover, to give and receive pleasure, requires empathy, concentration, selflessness and an appreciation of subtle cues coming from your significant other.  How these difficulties manifest itself can follow numerous patterns, depending on the premorbid desires of the injured person and the location and extent of the pathology.  Yet it is an expected and tragic loss.

For Part Eighteen of Angela’s Story, click here.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447