Managing People with Brain Injuries

How Civil Employees Can Identify and Manage People With Brain Injuries in an Emergency Situation

Basic Facts about Brain Injury

  • In the United States every 21 seconds a person experiences a brain injury.
  • In the United States there are 1.7 million brain injuries each year, and over 5.3 million people who live with lasting aftereffects.
  • Brain injury is most prevalent among youth age 16-20 and among adults over 65.  It is also the leading cause of death and disability among 16-19 year olds.
  • Brain injury is more common that you think.

Behavioral Characteristics of Individuals With Brain Injury

  • Because brain injury is invisible, the behaviors and responses of a person with a brain injury are easily misunderstood.
  • A person with a brain injury may not have the self-awareness to explain that they have a disability.
  • Even though they are not intellectually impaired, a person with a brain injury may have trouble processing information.
  • Background noise or other distractions may make it difficult for a person with a brain injury to focus on or remember what you are saying.
  • When trying to assist a person with a brain injury in an emergency situation it is best to give directions or other information in two modes. For example, give auditory directions along with written directions.
  • If at all possible use pictures to explain what is needed from the person.
  • When overwhelmed a person with a brain injury may respond to directions or suggestions with anger or rigid thinking. A calm, non-threatening approach when trying to gain assistance and collaboration is most effective.
  • Keep directions simple. Excessive detail can create confusion and frustration.
  • Many individuals with brain injury may have trouble with balance, vision, or walking.  Stairs may present a challenge.

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