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Top Tips for Caregivers in Early Stages of Rehabilitation

Caring for a person with a spinal cord or brain injury or a neurodegenerative disease can be challenging and overwhelming, especially in the early stages of diagnosis and rehabilitation.

Ann Boriskie, founder and director of the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association, as well as several caregivers, have provided the following tips for supporting your loved one during the rehabilitation process.

  1. You may feel frustrated or impatient. Talk with the doctor and other healthcare providers to learn what to expect. While it’s great to encourage your loved one to be self-sufficient, resist the urge to set unrealistic goals.
  2. Ask for help. Caregiving may be a new role for you. It takes time and help from others to learn how to be a good caregiver.
  3. Let your loved one do as much as possible. As a caregiver, you try to do everything to help. But as time passes, it’s a good idea to let your loved one take over as much as they can.
  4. Do not speak for the person unless absolutely necessary or interrupt the person while they are speaking.
  5. Try not to talk about the person with a brain injury in his or her presence. Lack of speech does not mean a lack of comprehension.
  6. It is OK for your loved one to have some time without you at their bedside. One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your loved one is to make time and space for yourself.
  7. Try to be patient with the injured person. Remember that they want to be better as much as you want them to be better.
  8. Accept the reality of what can and can’t be controlled.
  9. Stay in touch with friends and family members, and reach out to others for help.
  10. Join a support group. Don’t try to go it alone. Talking with other caregivers helps you feel less isolated and more in touch with life.

Visit for more information for patients and families.

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 743 inpatients, 277 day program patients and more than 7,161 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.