A qualitative study of life with an acquired brain injury

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Sarah Louise Hansen
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)

This thesis investigates how an acquired brain injury may be expressed in the daily life, as well as to which extent it is experienced to have an impact on the relation to the family involved.
The purpose of this study is to open up for an explorative approach to the impact of brain injury on the every day life, and thereby gain insights into individuals’ way to master the consequences of the injury.
The thesis is primarily based on a phenomenological approach in order to obtain insight, and come to an understanding of the informants' views as well as the intentionality of which they act upon. In addition, the social constructivist approach has been included, as many independent interpretations of the impact of brain injuries exist. Questions are raised concerning the impact of the social construction on the obtained answers, as these just may depend on the specific social construction.
In the thesis semi-structured interviews have been conducted, as this method has contributed to generate experiences and lessons learned throughout the preselected topics. Additionally, the method has made it possible that I as a researcher could remain open-minded and further have the opportunity to explore any new issues discovered during the interview.
The results of the thesis suggest that despite the different life situations for the informants, several of the brain injuries are perceived as uniform, which is why there can be certain observable characteristics. The observed characteristics concern among others coping strategies that compensate for their new disability. These strategies are primarily used to get the everyday life to function properly and depend on the disability the brain injury has caused.
In addition, the included informants have all previously been on the labor market, but have been granted disability pension as a result of the brain injury. It is observed that there exists a need for the everyday life to contain activities that can contribute to replace the temporal rhythms and routines that normally were associated with work life. However, it cannot be deduced from the above, that it is only the acquired brain injury that makes them feel a need to form an experiential whole of their 'new' everyday life, but a possible combination of both factors.

Conclusively, it is indicated that a brain injury can have important implications for not only the implicated individual but also the immediate family. Therefore a need for outside help exists for the current family system to be maintained, and for the relationship with the family not to be overloaded to such an extent that it is not able to 'survive' the consequences the brain injury has caused the entire family system.
Furthermore, it is interesting that the brain injury may affect the formation of new systems in the terms of partners who one normally would not have been interested in entering a relationship with.
I hope that the findings of this thesis can contribute to the debate within the area of brain injuries, and that the comparable characteristics can be used for future initiatives within the target group. In addition, the thesis can be read by other people with brain injuries and their relatives, and perhaps contribute to the reflection of their own challenges, in order for them not to feel 'alone' with the consequences the brain injury has caused.

Publication date3 Aug 2015
Number of pages98
ID: 216700864