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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Life with traumatic brain injury : experiences of social participation, self-awareness, and self-identity Mamman, Rinni Mary


Background: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) affects a substantial number of Canadians every year, with individuals experiencing changes to their everyday life. Objectives: This thesis aimed to 1) explore perceived changes in social participation and self-identity post-injury, and 2) characterise individuals displaying higher and lower levels of posttraumatic growth, in terms of their social participation, self-awareness, and self-identity. Methods: Study 1 used a constructivist grounded theory methodology. In study 2, a sequential explanatory/exploratory mixed-methods design was followed. For study 1, qualitative data were obtained from a semi-structured interview, conducted to explore the participants’ experiences of living with their TBI; for study 2, quantitative data were collected using questionnaires about social participation, self-awareness, and self-identity. Results: Participants were 16 adults with a moderate to severe TBI living in the community (average age= 49.8, male= 11). In study 1, an overarching theme ‘living in a reshaped reality’ was identified which comprised of three themes: 1) ‘there’s nothing that’s the same’ identified the daily challenges of living with a TBI, 2) ‘rebuilding and restarting’ described how participants navigated their post-injury life, and 3) ‘embrace it and run with it’ explored the participants’ responses to life with TBI. An explanatory model of these themes was developed, which illustrated how changes in social participation and self-identity may impact an individual’s post-injury life. In study 2, qualitative data were used to categorise individuals into two groups of higher (n=8) and lower (n=7) posttraumatic growth. The quantitative data were then used to characterise the two groups, indicating that participants portraying higher posttraumatic growth had greater social participation, more self-awareness, and fewer discrepancies in pre-and post-injury identities. Significance: This thesis builds understanding of the experience of life after TBI. Clinical rehabilitation could be framed to facilitate both social participation and positive self-identity changes given the explanatory model. Using the findings of posttraumatic growth characterisation, future research could explore the experiences of the development of posttraumatic growth after TBI.

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