Research Reports - Family members facilitating community re-integration and return to productivity following traumatic brain injury

Disabil Rehabil. 2015 May 14:1-9

Gagnon A(1), Lin J, Stergiou-Kita M

PURPOSE: This study explores the experiences of family members in supporting
community re-integration and return to productive occupations of the traumatic
brain injury (TBI) survivor in order to: (i) describe family members' supportive
roles, (ii) determine challenges family members experience in supporting the TBI
survivor; and (iii) identify supports that family members require to maintain and
enhance their roles.
METHODS: This qualitative descriptive study involved 14 interviews with immediate
family members of TBI survivors. Data was analyzed using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Family members expressed strong motivation and engaged in six key roles
to support TBI survivors: researcher, case manager, advocate, coach, activities
of daily living (ADL)/instrumental ADLs and emotional supporter. Personal and
family stressors and challenges navigating the health care system were perceived
as challenges in meeting demands of their supportive roles. Stigma also presented
a barrier to successful community and vocational re-integration. Subsequently,
family members desired more education related to the functional implications of
TBI, to be connected to health care and community resources, and sought a greater
family-centred care approach.
CONCLUSIONS: Family members require on-going counseling and community supports to
prevent burnout and allow for their continued engagement in their supportive
roles. Further education on how to navigate the health care system, access
community programs and rights to workplace accommodation is also warranted.
Implications for Rehabilitation Family members are strongly motivated to support
survivors' return to productive occupation following a traumatic brain injury,
but require counseling and community support to enable their on-going engagement
and prevent burnout. Family members can be further empowered through the
implementation of family-centred care. Family members requested further education
on the long-term functional implications of TBI, how to navigate the health care
system, how to access community programs and workers' rights to workplace
accommodations.

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