National Rehabilitation Hospital

An Exploration of the ways in which Individuals reconstruct their Sense of Self following Acquired Brain Injury: A Comparative Study of Individuals with Acquired Brain Injury and Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury

Authors:

Dr. Aisling Lennon School of Psychology, University College Dublin

Dr. Jessica Bramham, School of Psychology, University College Dublin

Dr. Àine Carroll, The National Rehabilitation Hospital

Dr. Jacinta McElligott, The National Rehabilitation Hospital

Dr. Simone Carton, The National Rehabilitation Hospital

Dr. Brian Waldron, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland

Dr. Donal Fortune, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland

Dr. Teresa Burke, School of Psychology, University College Dublin

Mr. Mark Fitzhenry, School of Psychology, University College Dublin

Prof. Ciaràn Benson, School of Psychology, University College Dublin

 

Key Words: acquired brain injury, spinal cord injury, self, qualitative

Objective: The present study aimed to investigate the specific ways in which individuals reconstruct their sense of self following brain injury, by comparing individuals with acquired brain injury (ABI) and individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), two groups that have experienced a sudden-onset injury with life-changing repercussions.

Design: Phenomenological qualitative research Participants, methods and procedures: Nine individuals with ABI and ten individuals with SCI took part in an interview exploring the ways in which individuals reconstruct their sense of self following injury. Data were analysed using interpretative thematic analysis. Main outcomes and results: Findings showed similar themes identified within the interview data of the ABI and SCI groups. Both groups developed positive and negative self-narratives. Individuals employed strategies that facilitated the reconstruction of positive self-narratives. In addition individuals described their sense of self as simultaneously continuous and changing.

Conclusions: The findings are discussed in relation to previous research and implications for clinical practice.

Final Report presented to the NRH Ethics Committee – March 2012