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Communicating with Patients and Families about TBI

What Information Do Families Need?

Information about brain injury is the number one need reported by families. Yet educating families about brain injury is complicated. The brain is so complex that it is difficult to predict recovery. Each brain injury is unique.

The Three C's

The Three C's or Basic Rules of Communication with Families Are...

Currency: Current or up-to-date information
Content: Important information at that time
Compassion: How information is given

How information is delivered can be just as important as what is said.

Any hospital stay is stressful for families, but treatment for a brain injury makes this an even more difficult time. Many families are in a state of emotional shock, confusion and grief in the early days of hospital care. This stage is commonly referred to as denial. This is a coping method used while families gather the inner resources to deal with the diagnosis and its meaning. It does not mean that families do not need or want information at this stage. It does mean that families may retain only a small portion of conversations because of their stress and fluctuating emotions.

It is important for professionals to ask what they are doing to help educate and communicate with the family. Every person involved with the patient, whether a physician, therapist or nurse, is a potentialcommunicator and educator with the family. Surveys show that clear and understandable information is one of the most important priorities for families.

Communicating with Families

Communicating After Brain Injury

  1. Communicate in clear, non-technical language.
  2. Gauge level of understanding as you proceed.
  3. Respond to emotional needs of family members.

Setting Up Communication

Giving Information

Involving Families

Supporting Families