While much is known about the short-term and long-term physical and cognitive effects of a traumatic brain injury, Little attention is paid to the impact the trauma can have on a marriage. Now, researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University are developing special counseling techniques that can be used for couples who have to get used to the presence of brain injury in their lives.
The focus is on tailoring counseling therapies that help couples focus on the positive aspects of their life together instead of looking back at life before the injury. The research at Virginia Commonwealth University is just one of a few studies being conducted to find more appropriate and effective programs for couples struggling with brain injuries.
In every marriage involving a spouse with a brain injury, there are 2 victims – the spouse with the injury, and the uninjured spouse who is now forced into the role of caregiver. The uninjured spouse is often exposed to severe strain and stress, because of the personality changes in the spouse with a brain injury.
Persons with a brain injury are at risk of a range of emotional and psychological problems, ranging all the way from anxiety and depression to mania. For caregivers who also happen to be spouses, the stress can be so severe, that it can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Not all of the news about marriages dealing with brain injury is bad, however. According to one study, the divorce rate among couples dealing with brain injuries is much lower -17% – than the national divorce rate. That indicates that not all marriages collapse after a major catastrophe like this. However, that doesn’t mean that the process of picking up and moving on with life is easy for any of these couples.