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7 top tips for helping your relationships after brain injury

Sun 13 May 2018

Relationships of all sorts, such as those we have with friends, partners, relatives and colleagues, can commonly be affected by brain injury.

The physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioural effects of brain injury can sometimes cause relationships around the brain injury survivor to become strained. This can be upsetting for both the survivor themselves and those with whom they have relationships. Over time, relationships might break down, resulting in an important source of social support potentially being lost to the survivor. 

Here we share seven top tips for managing relationships after brain injury: 

1. Share Headway information

Share Headway booklets and factsheets to help one another with understanding the effects that brain injury has had on your lives. Visit the Information Library to access all of Headway’s available publications.

2. Communicate with one another

Being able to effectively communicate with one another is an important part of any relationship. If you are upset about something in particular, avoid bringing this up when you or the other person is feeling angry, as this may lead to an argument. Instead, find a moment when you are both feeling calm and you have sufficient time to allow for a discussion to take place. The effects of brain injury can make communication more challenging. For further information or support, visit our page dedicated to communication problems, or download our booklet Coping with communication problems after brain injury from the Information Library

3. Make an effort to show you care

Even small gestures, such as telling someone how important they are to you or writing them a letter can show someone how much you care, which can help to nurture positive relationships.

4. Remember that it’s natural for relationships to fluctuate

Try to remember that it is normal to have moments or periods of difficulties and challenges in any relationship. Professional help should be sought if there are serious problems on an ongoing basis.

5. Hold regular ‘date nights’

Set time aside to spend quality time together. You might even wish to ‘dress up’ to turn it into a special occasion.

6. Write letters to one another

Writing allows people to choose their words carefully, and can be particularly useful when attempting to convey complex thoughts. If it is not possible for either of you to write a letter, consider using alternative methods that are easier such as typing on an adapted computer or creating an audio recording.

7. Celebrate the good times

Celebrate positive moments that you share with the people you have relationships with. You could even consider creating a scrap book of memories you share together, including dates of good occasions and photographs. Children in particular might find this an enjoyable activity to undertake. 


More detailed information can be found in our booklet Relationships after brain injury, which is now available to download for free at the bottom of this page. You can also browse the links below to find out more. 

My story

"Play the cards you've been dealt, as best you can"

27th September 2014, life changed for us. On the second day of a holiday in Sydney, Rob suffered a near fatal brain haemorrhage and stroke. Rob had lengthy emergency surgery before being put into an induced coma. When he came round a few weeks later, he had lost all means of communication, with full right side paralysis.

I’ve been asked by Headway to share my thoughts on my experience from a relationships perspective; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Read story

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