Coping with TBI to improve quality of life

Veterans who have experienced TBI, including some who didn’t know they had a traumatic brain injury until later, talk about their experiences. Listen as they describe the signs and symptoms of TBI and its effects on their families. By reaching out for help, they were able to overcome these obstacles and live better lives.

What are the effects of a traumatic brain injury?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur when something outside the body hits the head with significant force or causes the head to forcefully and rapidly move. There are many causes of TBI, including when the head hits the windshield during a car accident, an impact from a fall, sports or other recreational activities, or trauma from a nearby blast or explosion during military service. Whatever the cause, TBI can affect the ability to think, control emotions, walk, or speak, along with their senses of sight or hearing.

“I was having trouble seeing. Everything was blurry, the headaches were nonstop, I couldn’t get measurements, and I was confused all the time. All of these were symptoms of a brain injury — we just didn’t know it yet.”

TBI can be mild to severe. Mild injuries are associated with brief changes in or loss of consciousness. Severe injuries involve longer periods of unconsciousness and memory loss around the event. Moderate and severe instances of TBI may be easier to diagnose.

TBI can affect many areas of a person’s life, including physical functions, thinking abilities, and behaviors. These effects sometimes cause other difficulties such as sleeping problemsdepression, and anxiety.

Physical effects may include:


Cognitive effects may include:


Behavioral effects may include:



What are the effects of TBI that could be mistaken for another condition?

Some of the symptoms of traumatic brain injury can look like emotional or behavioral problems, even though they are actually due to TBI. There are no standard TBI symptoms; the condition can affect people in different ways, and sometimes symptoms change during the recovery process. Some people may recognize TBI symptoms immediately, while for others, these symptoms don’t show up right away or can be ignored or minimized at first.

If left untreated, the effects of TBI can affect the way you live your life and the relationships you have with others. Ignoring your symptoms and trying to “tough it out” may make symptoms worse.

The timeline for recovery varies from person to person. People with symptoms of mild TBI may recover over time, and signs may disappear within a few weeks or months. Some moderate to severe TBI symptoms last for a longer period of time and may be permanent. However, there are effective treatments and support for helping Veterans manage their symptoms and find a path to recovery.

If you have experienced an injury and have any of the following persistent symptoms, you should seek a thorough assessment for TBI:

“I’d say that the biggest thing that I had to deal with was frustration. I didn’t know why I was forgetful all the time or always in a bad mood. I didn’t know that I had a traumatic brain injury.”

Some people with TBI think about harming themselves. You might believe that others would be better off without you or that there is no other way out of your problems. These thoughts need immediate attention. It’s important that you talk to someone right away if you have thoughts of death or suicide. If you are thinking about death or suicide, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1. You can also use the Veterans Crisis Line Online Chat or send a text message to 838255. These services provide free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.



What can I do about the effects of TBI?

Many Veterans receive effective treatment for TBI. During a TBI evaluation, you and your doctor will discuss what caused your injury. You may also talk about how to deal with the physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms and effects, such as difficulty concentrating and headaches, and how these things affect your daily life.

Your doctor may recommend counseling to help you learn ways to manage the effects of TBI. A brain injury can affect the way that the brain functions, and medications may be needed or changed to assist in recovery and coping.


What can I do to manage the effects of TBI?

Most doctors who treat head injuries agree that recovery is faster if you understand what is happening, get enough rest, and resume your responsibilities at your own pace.

Don’t push yourself too hard. The time you spend at work, with family and friends, and in other activities should be determined by your comfort level. Only gradually increase your activity level over time. Consider whether or not those activities make your symptoms worse.

“My doctor zeroed in on what exactly was affected and gave me the right medications to deal with my TBI. I started speaking more clearly and I became less frustrated and less angry.”

You can take the following steps to help manage your TBI symptoms:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Write things down or use electronic reminders if you have trouble remembering.
  • Establish a regular daily routine.
  • Check with someone you trust when making decisions.
  • Avoid alcohol. It could slow down the healing process and make symptoms worse.
  • Avoid caffeine, cold medications that treat nasal congestion, or other products that contain pseudoephedrine, which may increase the symptoms.
  • Recognize triggers. Keep a record to help identify situations that are more likely to worsen your symptoms.
  • Take up a hobby or a recreational activity.
  • Talk to others to keep you from feeling isolated and to give friends and loved ones a chance to support you.
  • Remember that symptoms are a normal part of the recovery — and that they will get better.

If your TBI symptoms are interfering with your life or are not improving, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to suggest other steps other options based on what you are experiencing.


Call The Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255 And Press 1. Or Send A Text Message To The Veterans Crisis Line At 838255.

Free, confidential support 24 / 7 / 365.











Give the San Jose Vet Center a call, at (408) 993-0729 to get back to your best life.


In Addition to the VA, here are some Community Mental Health Resources
In Addition to the VA, here are some Community Physical Health Resources









San Jose Vet Center is open:

7 AM to Midnight on weekdays

8 AM to 4:30 PM on weekends (including holidays)  

Give them a call to get back to your best life. (408) 993-0729.















Fight – For You And Your Family

Give the SJVC a call, at (408) 993-0729 to get back to your best life.













As long as you have a DD214, the SJVC can start helping you Right Now.   Take a look at the Welcome tab, above, to see all they can help you with.

Give the SJVC a call, at (408) 993-0729 to get back to your best life. 













San Jose Vet Center is open:

7 AM to Midnight on weekdays

8 AM to 4:30 PM on weekends (holidays included)  

Give them a call to get back to your best life. (408) 993-0729.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email