Approximately 200-300/100,000 of the population are admitted to hospital each year with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It is estimated that 135,000 people in the UK require round the clock care after surviving severe head injury. Bellaby (1993)suggested that the aftermath of TBI differs subjectively and socially from most chronic illness and disabilities. In particular it is sudden in onset and it disrupts the victim's and carer's expectations of life. Whilst other illnesses are commonly seen as either physical or mental TBI has no visible cause but is manifested in behaviour that is both physical and mental. While TBI usually occurs as a sudden disruptive event the family or carer experience the impact of the injury for many years. This paper draws on a study of 25 informal carers of relatives with TBI. The study revealed that carer's lives moved through 4 distinct phases: the acute, the release to carer, the coping and the adaptation phases. In passing through these stages carers reported initially experiencing hope and expectations of full recovery, then moving to a sense of complete abandoment by all health and social care services, to a period of 'virtual' bereavement and finally to an acceptance that life can never return to normal and that everyday will be different. This study has important implications for providers of services for TBI patients and their carers.
|Keywords:||Traumatic Brain Injury, Carers, Virtual Bereavement, Altered Lives|
Professor of Health and Social Care Studies, Centre for Health and Social Care Research, Faculty of Health and Social Care., Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, Kent, UK
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