Seven Tips to Improve Communication for Persons Living with Brain Injury

Narrowing the Gap of Misunderstandings

1) If the person with a brain injury asks the speaker to repeat what was said, they might hear the information incorrectly a second time. However, if the person with a brain injury repeats the information back to the speaker; the speaker has an opportunity to correct the error if there is one. If the brain injury survivor writes a message down, it is important to read back what was written to confirm that it was noted correctly.
2) Persons with a brain injury often repeat themselves when speaking. This might happen if the listener doesn’t respond with the response that is being anticipated by the brain injury survivor, or if there is no response. Repetition is the brain injury survivor’s means to make sure that they said it correctly. This can irritate the listener, if they interpret the repetition to be for their benefit. (Comments that indicate this are: “I heard you the first time,” or “You already said that.”) Responses to indicate that they understood what was said help eliminate repetition from the survivor.

3) If persons with a brain injury closely watch the expressions of those whom they are speaking with, they will be able to identify if they are communicating clearly. If a listener looks puzzled, it is a sign of a miscommunication.

4) Persons with a brain injury impulsively blurt out thoughts or interrupt others because they are afraid the thought will leave them if they don’t express it immediately, or because they have trouble containing their excitement. A pocket notebook can give them a place to write thoughts down until it is their turn to talk.

5) Over-stimulation leads to agitation leads to rage. High levels of movement or noise can trigger anger. When the person with a brain injury feels an internal agitation, if they will remove themselves from the stimulus to a quiet spot, they will be able to control outbursts. Television and computers are very stimulating.

6) Intense concentration can drain the brain battery. Rotating between activities which require thinking and activities that are routine prevent rapid wear-down.

7) Over-stimulation or deep concentration without pacing put the brain injury survivor at risk for inappropriate social behaviors. Persons with brain injuries say the random thoughts that most people think but don’t say out-loud. (conversation balloons) Many times, they are equally shocked and disappointed by what fell out of their mouth. (Also referred to as “thinking with your mouth open.”)

Article Signature:
Lois McElravy, Lessons from Lois, entertains, inspires and motivates audiences with humorous keynotes, workshops and adversity trainings. She provides life-changing insights, humor strategies and practical solutions gained from her personal experience of adjusting to a sudden life change when she sustained a brain injury nineteen years ago.

Her signature story provides family members, care-givers and professionals with a deeper understanding of brain injury from a survivor’s perspective. Lois inspires hope and motivates survivors to accept their new reality and redefine their life purpose. She equips them with strategies to manage their challenges, improve relationships and feel happy.

©2012 Lois McElravy, Lessons from Lois – Permission to reprint or repost this article is granted by including the above byline and Lois’ contact information.