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Changes After a Brain Injury

Social Situations & Effects due to Stress

​Social Situations

A person with a brain injury may find it hard to be in social situations. He may act impulsively, such as speaking out without thinking about the consequences. He may not always be sensitive to social boundaries or his behaviour may not be the right one for the situation. He may act out of place in social or public settings he’s not familiar with.

​Tips to help with socializing

What to do before an event

  • Tell him what behaviour is expected in that social setting or things such as a job interview, a funeral, or in church.
  • Plan and practise social interactions so that he will be familiar, predictable, and consistent.
  • Decide on a signal (like a word or movement) that will cue him to stop and think.

What to do during the event

  • Have him slow down and think about how he’ll respond.
  • Have him thing about the result the behaviour will have.
  • Give positive feedback for correct behaviour.
  • Take a break if you see him getting frustrated or tired.
  • If undesired behaviour happens, calmly address the behaviour in private. Be objective and explain that it’s the behaviour that isn’t appropriate, not him.
  • Reassure him and make sure your expectations are realistic.

What to do after the event

  • Go over the behaviour, how well the cues work, and the overall success of the outing.
  • Make sure he knows what behaviour, responses to cues, and redirection was appropriate.


The stress caused by the physical and changes in thinking after a brain injury can often lead to emotional problems. If he has problems with his memory or can’t control his emotions well, he may feel that he’s losing his mind, instead of telling himself that that these changes are because of his brain injury. He may react by becoming depressed, anxious, or frustrated. Out of fear or confusion, he may deny that he has any problems and the result they may have.

Some people feel angry about their condition and take their anger out on their family. Others may give up hope and become depressed and withdrawn. The way a person adapts to his disabilities depends on the injury, what his personality was like before the injury, and the attitude of family and friends. Adjusting to the changes created by a serious brain injury can take many years.

Tips to help manage stress

  • Encourage the person with the brain injury, their family, and close friends talk about their fears and concerns.
  • Help him set realistic goals.
  • Keep up hope for continued recovery.
  • Find out if there are programs that may help you cope.

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