An exploration of the experiences of young adults who acquired a brain injury

Prof Doc Thesis

Schrover, Isabella 2015. An exploration of the experiences of young adults who acquired a brain injury. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsSchrover, Isabella
TypeProf Doc Thesis

In the United Kingdom at least 15,600 young adults are admitted to hospital following an acquired brain injury each year. For those who survive, the brain injury-related consequences to their psychological well-being (e.g. feelings of anxiety and low mood, low self-esteem) and social environment (e.g. very limited social support, loss of relationships and friendships) are understood to be the ones that have the most effect on a young person’s life in the long term. The social environment, such as family and friends, is important for the development of a young person’s identity, independence and self-esteem. Most young people with an acquired brain injury rely on their families to help them to manage the long-term psychosocial consequences. It is understood that society tends to denigrate the unproductiveness and dependence of those young people who do not have a visible sign of the injury.

The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of young people aged 18 to 31 living with a brain injury who do not have visible impairments and who sustained their injury more than two years ago. Six men and two women who attended the young people’s group at Headway House in East London were interviewed. Thematic analysis within a critical-realist epistemology was undertaken to analyse the interviews for shared and distinct themes.

Four main themes and four subthemes were identified, representing the participants’ experiences of how their brain injury had led to a range of inabilities, for example cognitive, physical, behavioural, communicative and personality, which changed their sense of self, their social relationships and their return to work or school. These changes consequently led to feelings of lost purpose and meaning in life and ultimately to feelings of low mood, frustration and exclusion. The participants felt supported by family and professional services and they described that acknowledgement of inabilities was necessary to make effective use of provided support. Yet, the participants felt that they were excluded by our society and left to their own devices to find themselves a meaningful place in society. Therefore, it is recommended that the general public and professionals would benefit from general education about the challenges young brain injury survivors face and the support they need.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintDec 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Jun 2015
Publisher's version
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