Quick Facts

  • Self-image is often described as our identity and how we view ourselves in relation to others; it can include how we view our abilities, appearance, and personality
  • Brain injury often impacts an individual’s sense of identity and how they perceive themselves
  • An injured person may experience a loss of self-identity that can be very difficult as they are the same person but with a new set of strengths and weaknesses

What does it
look like?

  • Reduced self-confidence and fear of failure
  • Participating in less risky behaviours or more risky behaviours
  • Difficulty recognizing the positive qualities within oneself
  • Preoccupation with limitations
  • Disengagement from people, tasks and activities they previously enjoyed
  • Less communicative
  • Describes themselves as “not being the same person”
  • Engagement in more self-stimulating activities (i.e. using electronic devices, eating)
  • Denies the impact of their injury

Possible Causes and Complications

Possible causes:

  • Loss or change of function and ability to perform previously known tasks
  • If the individual has sustained a minor injury, they may experience doubt that they are not the same person they were prior to their brain injury
  • If the individual has experienced a more severe injury or communication problems, they may experience immense frustration and a sense of isolation

Possible complications:

  • May experience fear about the future
  • They may feel misunderstood by their friends, family, and their community
  • They may feel lonely and isolated
  • May affect relationships with family, friends, and their partner

What can we do?

  • Promote an understanding of the changes they have acquired due to their brain injury and help them adjust to these changes
  • Highlight their strengths and help them to understand weaknesses
  • Help them understand a “new normal” and that “normal’ is a relative term
  • Recommend activities that can create a feeling of success, engagement and accomplishment
  • Encourage the person to focus on one challenge at a time to reduce feeling overwhelmed
  • Use a lot of positive reinforcement
  • Avoid trivializing new realities
  • Encourage the person to participate in support groups and counselling
  • Help the individual find something they are passionate about and allows them to contribute to their community

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace advice from a medical doctor. Consult a health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.