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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Head2Head

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Useful Information for patients and carers

This page has been designed for those who are caring for someone following a SAH and their family members. Because a SAH happens suddenly, it comes as a great Shock. Sometimes disabilities are present following SAH which may become more permanent. These changes can take some coming to terms with as a family, and can have an impact on everyone. You may need extra support at this time.

Having a brain injury can deprive someone of the ability make a decision about their daily life. It can also deprive someone of the insight they require to see a need for a change in the way they behave. Often their behaviour may be seen as challenging by those who care for that individual.

The changes seen might be subtle and the cause for certain behaviours can often be overlooked.

What can you do?

Try to understand the behaviour patterns in the context of the environment and the person. You can use charts and diaries which will help you to identify:

  • Preceding triggers
  • Unmet needs
  • Communication difficulties
  • Memory problems
  • Pain
  • Fatigue

Feeling Vulnerable at home

People are affected by brain injury in different ways, some find it hard to make decisions and become impulsive or hasty; some decisions such as what toothpaste to buy becomes almost impossible, whereas others become almost paralyzed by having to choose or come to a conclusion.

Attention and concentration

Maintaining a focus on the task at hand is extremely complex. This can have added complications such as frontal lobe damage reducing your inhibitions and making it harder to control your emotions or plan for specific parts of your life.

What can help?

  • Decrease the distractions. For example, work in a quiet room or turn off background noise.
  • Focus on one task at a time; one train of thought at a time.
  • Begin practicing attention skills on simple, yet practical activities (such as reading a paragraph or adding numbers): slowly build up the length of time You spend on this task.
  • Once you have increased your tolerance for the first 3 points, gradually make the tasks harder (read a short story in one sitting, or try to work in a noisier environment). Make sure that this is graded so that you do not overload yourself too quickly. Take breaks when you get tired: this is especially important if you have fatigue or seizures as a result of your injury.

Tips for friends and family

It can be difficult for friends and family to understand what has happened to someone who has had an SAH. They might look fine physically, but it can take a long time to get back to "normal". Often, friends and family find it hard to know what to say. They do not know whether to ask someone if they are OK, or to behave as if nothing has changed. People who have had an SAH can find it difficult to talk to about the problems they are experiencing and might feel isolated as a result.

  • Keep a routine
  • Try not to take remarks personally
  • Try to keep calm at all times
  • Try not to have too many visitors

There are many organisations on the website that may be useful. Below is a link to the Oxford carers organisation and the UK carers page.

Family support

At the John Radcliffe: Carers Oxfordshire have Maureen Warner: OUH Carers Adviser

01235 424715
M: 07827235447
maureenwarner@carersoxfordshire.org.uk
www.carersoxfordshire.org.uk 0345 050 7666 -Helpline

Carers UK

Information and Support for people who are carers.
Web: www.carersuk.org