A recent article indicates that mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have a long lasting impact on families, as well as patients.

The article appears in the November issue of American Journal of Nursing.

In a news release from Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, Edior-in-Chief of American Journal of Nursing explains that as the numbers of individuals with mild TBI increase in the community, “it’s crucial for nurses to make this a part of assessment for early recognition and intervention. Nurses may often be the first health professionals who, hearing the complaints of the patient or family member, might recognize that they’re having difficulty adjusting to the family impact of head injury,” she adds.

The release notes that Kyong S. Hyatt, PhD, RN, FNP, Walter Reed National Military Center, authored the article. The article highlights the ways in which mild TBI can impact patients and families, yet it reports that so far, patient and family adjustment post-mild TBI has received “scant” attention in the medical literature.

Hyatt emphasizes in the article that in many patients, the range of cognitive, physical, and psychological symptoms that may accompany mild TBI resolve promptly, however “a subset experience persistent symptoms that create unique treatment challenges.”

These include expression of stress in the form of anger, depression, and anxiety—all of which the release notes can be perceived by family members as a “personality change.”

Family members may also not understand that the individual may encounter difficulties in accomplishing daily tasks—such as balancing a checkbook or helping children with homework, the release says. The impact may be heightened for families that were not functioning well prior to the injury.

Nurses play an important role in the process, Hyatt says, adding, “Finding ways to help the patient and family manage emotional distress and accept enduring changes may be the key to post-injury reintegration.”

Source: Science Daily, Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins