My friend has a brain injury - how can I help them?

When your friend or loved one is unwell with flu or has suffered a broken bone, it’s usually easy to know exactly how you can help. Their GP can also confirm how long they should remain on bed rest or how long their injury will take to heal. However, when your loved ones live with a brain injury, it can be challenging to know how to help them.

You can’t always see the effects of a brain injury, leaving you with questions such as:

  • How long will recovery take?
  • Will they ever be the same again?
  • How do I know if their symptoms are from the brain injury or medication?

For the individual living with brain injury, it can be difficult to put their feelings or needs into words. Life can be very different to what it was before.

If your friend or loved one has recently experienced a brain injury, it can be hard to know what to do. That’s why we’re hoping to help.

Understanding a brain injury 

One key thing to understand is that a brain injury can affect people in many different ways – some experience symptoms related to concussions, others experience life-changing symptoms that require neurorehabilitation and support throughout their lives.

The human brain is active, so the best form of recovery is to keep the brain active when a traumatic brain injury occurs. While some patients lean towards physical activity where possible, others seek more cognitive exercises.

It is also important to remember that brain injuries don’t go away after a couple of weeks. Up to 30% of individuals who experience some form of confusion experience lingering symptoms for months and years to come. Recovery from a brain injury is a life-long task. Neuroplasticity allows the brain to adjust to the injury, so while it may never make a full recovery, it can keep making positive progress.

Find out more about neurorehabilitation.

Helping someone with a traumatic brain injury 

Adapting to life with a brain injury can be quite difficult – and recovery often depends on the severity of the brain injury. However, when it is time for your loved one to return home and rehabilitate to as much of everyday life as possible for them, there are some things you can do to help;

  • Learning their triggers
  • Monitoring stimulation levels
  • Make home a more accessible place
  • Encourage them to expand their new comfort zone
  • Support them during treatment and rehabilitation

Let’s not forget, while your loved one is trying to adapt to their new way of life and undergo neurorehabilitation, they may potentially be in the middle of a medico-legal case. Often, this happens if the brain injury was due to a criminal injury, negligence and sometimes personal injury.

It is crucial to avoid doing everything for your loved one. While it can be tempting to step in and do whatever needs doing, you’re then taking away a critical step in their recovery. To recover well, the brain must re-learn problem-solving and be stimulated. The individual also needs a sense of accomplishment. So don’t do everything for them – instead, provide a supporting hand and ask them to let you know when they’d like you to step in.

In addition to this, behavioural changes can sometimes impact those around the individual. Adjusting to life with a brain injury is not easy. Many individuals can lack emotional control following a brain injury, as the nervous system has been affected and can lead to exaggerated responses.

Don’t give up

Brain injuries are long-lasting, sometimes invisible illnesses. While you can’t always see on the outside what’s wrong, it can be very hard on the patient and their loved ones. When individuals suffer from a brain injury, their loved ones must recover alongside them.


Our Medical Expert Witnesses provide an extensive range of medico-legal reports, services and testimony for claimant and defendant solicitors, barristers and legal teams.

Through NRC Clinical Practice, our Consultants bring leadership and continuity to the rehabilitation journey, improving people’s recovery outcomes.

To inquire about appointing an expert witness for your case or discuss appointing a Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine, request a callback or contact us directly.