The role of self-esteem in TBI

Self-esteem is a key component in traumatic brain injury (TBI) rehabilitation. Self-esteem is utilize mainly in psychology and it is define as the evaluation and appraisal of a person own worth. I remember when my husband sustained the TBI and was sent home on September 2009. He was angry and very frustrated, but all that suddenly changed to be sad and with a sense of worthless. One of the characteristics that distinguished my husband was how independent and sufficient he was, he would spend days in the field or he was deployed or he was just in any given mission the army sent him. He was so proud of his soldiering skills and of his soldiers.

Why am I writing about this? There is always a purpose in my blog and that is to show how it was before the injury, immediately after the injury and some later time after the injury. You will notice that things will not always have to be sad. Self-esteem is a very important component, it will determine how motivated the person will be and the chances are that with higher self-esteem the patient will approach rehabilitation from a different perspective, making the most out of it and succeeding. We, the caregivers need also to have good self-esteem about ourselves and our role. We should approach the situation with a broad perspective and try to enhance or develop those skills necessary to sustain ourselves through the rehabilitation process.

So now the question is how can we do this? I will just share what worked for us.
When I noticed my husband was falling in the route of helplessness:

1. I made a list of his strengths and things that will require improvement through rehab.

2. I played videos about what TBI was, he could barely stay focus but that is okay, so I invited him to play in segments so he will understand one thing at a time.

Some of the skills were still there and we focus on the good things and not in what he lost. We worked together in things that will motivate him. Understanding his condition made him more aware that the symptoms he was experiencing were normal but he needed to use his strategies to compensate. He learned how to make lemonade out of lemon and he understood that life is what you make of it.
Today my husband is very motivated, he is very knowledgeable about TBI and he uses his strengths to empower others like him. He found the key to defeat TBI, he wakes up every day with a new mission, to motivate others and to create awareness. He challenges himself everyday knowing that tomorrow will be a better day, but with the certainty that today will never come back so lives to the fullest and he embraces life with pride and dignity.

I know it sounds too simple and it is not, it took tremendous amount of efforts and energy, but it was all worth it. I would not share this if is not because I am confident that like my husband there are many more TBI survivors that can make a better life than what they expected. We, the caregivers can make that difference in their lives and I tell you, you won't regret it. Takes time, patience and above all, love.

Remember that while you help and care for your loved one you also need to take care of yourself.



  1. Great point. Having a brain injury forces a person to find their self esteem in totally different areas. What you thought you were is gone. Poof! You have to figure out who you are now and what the value is there. It is funny, but the things that become so prized now were there all along, I just did not recognize it. Bet it is the same for Victor. Overall, i would say my self esteem is much better. Go figure?

  2. You guys are so right. But it was always there. the strenght I mean. I always tell peopl, if we weren't strong and STUBBORN, we wouldn't be alive!
    Roxana, do you think it would be ok for me to copy this and use it in our newsletter? Not sure which one it would go in but I think it is so important for people to hear. Thanks for being you!

  3. Hi Debbie and Lee,

    As alsways, thanks for your comments, they are so helpful. Self-esteem is something that I see fluctuated at first when my husband was injured. before he was so secured and felt so good about himself. After the injury he felt uneasy and unsecure in the simple simple things and felt he was not good enough for anything. Now he is gaining that confidence back and I wanted to bring to light this important issue of self-esteem that sometimes we take for granted.

    Lee, of course you can post in the newsletter, please share :)

    Thanks friends :)


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