Most people with a TBI experience some confusion after their injury; it is not uncommon. Sometimes confusion can be very brief, lasting only minutes or hours, or it may last for days, weeks, or even longer. Each person may have different levels of confusion resulting from their TBI.

Keeping your family member safe, reminding them about what’s going on, and offering reassurance are important.

What might you see?

  • Disorientation (not sure of where they are, time of day, what has happened)
  • Blank stares
  • Confusion with times/tasks in the schedule of activities
  • Confusion with past and present events
  • Telling stories to fill memory gaps that they believe to be true (this is known as confabulation)

How can you help?

  • Put calendars, clocks, family pictures, and/or a sign in places where your family member will be throughout the day – for example, in the kitchen, bedroom, etc. A daily list of activities and appointments, as well as details about healthcare team members and what each one does may also be useful.
  • Use a notebook or calendar to plan for and track events. Have the service member or veteran refer to it regularly for details of daily events.
  • Gently remind the service member or veteran of correct details of past and present events.
  • Limit changes in the family member’s daily routine.