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Being a Good Listener to a Service Member or Veteran with TBI

Being a Good Listener to a Service Member or Veteran with TBI

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Hey guys, it's Adam. Today I wanted to talk to you and share my experiences about a conversation that I had with a good buddy of mine down at the VA Medical Center. He's an individual who suffered a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, and he essentially has a speech impediment now. He speaks at a slower pace, at a slower rate. It takes him a little bit longer to retrieve information and to kind of formulate a response to my question or our conversation. So translating that to the larger universe, a lot of veterans with traumatic brain injury do take a little bit longer to respond to a question, to formulate a response and can kind of deliver that response back in the conversation. So what does that mean for the people talking with them? What does it mean for the family, for the friends, for the caregivers? Really, one of the things it means is patience. It's not rushing the conversation. If you're asking a question or making a comment, give them an appropriate or a sensitive amount of time to respond back and to formulate kind of their feelings and get that into a sentence that they feel comfortable sharing back with you. And don't rush it. Don't sit there nodding at them, "Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm," because that's just going to be disrespectful. It's going to increase their anxiety level, it's going to be kind of an anxious situation or an antagonistic situation, because it's already going to be hard enough for them to formulate their response and to try and derive what they're going to say back, so they don't need that added stress. And that's one way that people around individuals with traumatic brain injury can really be sensitive and can really help. And I think you will find that the conversation quality is really, really good, and you'll find that the communication back and forth is really enriched through that level of patience that you exhibit. So try it out and let me know how it goes. Thanks.

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For some service members and veterans after a brain injury, speaking becomes harder whether it is with word retrieval or the amount of time it takes to formulate and deliver a response or comment. Adam shares his experience with being a sensitive and respectful listener.

 
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Hi, I’m Adam Anicich

I’m a former Army Sergeant, a Department of Veterans Affairs employee, a service-disabled vet, and someone with a brain injury. I’m here to share my story with you — along with some practical tips — and I hope that I can help you in your own journey of recovery.

Learn more about Adam >

 

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