The service member or veteran may not be fully aware of how the TBI has affected them or others.

Self-awareness also means understanding our own strengths and weaknesses. Our sense of self-awareness is housed in the frontal lobe of the brain. When this area of the brain is injured, a person’s self-awareness may be affected.

A reduced sense of self-awareness is often an effect of TBI. The service member or veteran may say very little has changed in their life since the injury. They are not deliberately denying there is a problem. People with a TBI simply do not understand that their behavior or personality has changed.

Self-awareness usually improves with time and with feedback from others.

What might you see?

  • Underestimating the problem areas related to TBI
  • Not understanding why rehabilitation therapies are needed
  • Not following the recommendations of the healthcare team (for example, driving restrictions or no alcohol)
  • Unrealistic expectations about future plans or abilities
  • Inaccurate self-perception or self-image

How can you help?

  • Learn how to use safe, "supported risk-taking" techniques from the healthcare team. This method allows the person to try to do something that they think they can do but that may be beyond their capabilities. The goal is to raise the person’s awareness through real trial and error situations.
  • Work with the service member or veteran to use effective problem-solving techniques.
  • Give realistic and supportive feedback.
  • Help to set realistic goals. Develop plans to take steps towards larger or long-term goals.
  • Use a memory notebook or other device to track progress and setbacks related to the family member’s self-awareness.