Having a spouse, longer time in rehab increases community integration post-TBI

BY: BHANU SHARMA

There’s more evidence that having a spouse, and being able to stick it out for the long-run in rehab,  is good for you.

Often, traumatic brain injury (TBI) results in a number of symptoms, problems, and complications. Among the most well-known of these are those which impair or compromise cognitive processes such as memory, attention, and thinking, and to a lesser extent, affective functions such as emotion and mood. But TBI can also have a negative impact on how a person engages in their community.

photo credit: The Lover via photopin (license)
photo credit: The Lover via photopin (license)

Changes in community integration – meaning the extent to which one participates in their community, society, and home – have long been identified as a consequence of TBI. Given that higher levels of community integration following a TBI are positively related to life satisfaction, physical health and perceived success in transitioning from hospital to home, improving community integration should be a primary rehabilitation goal following brain injury. However, to improve community integration, it is first important to understand the factors that influence levels of community integration following TBI. One recent study did just this.

In the study, the authors examined levels of community integration two-years following a brain injury. The study participants had either a moderate or a severe TBI. Although there are a number of ways to measure community integration, the authors of the study used the Community Integration Questionnaire (CIQ), a widely used and valid measure of community integration for patients with brain injury. Using this questionnaire was a strength of the study.

After a series of statistical analyses, the study identified five main predictors of higher levels of community integration two-years following a TBI.

community integration

Promisingly, many factors can contribute positively to community integration. Certain family dynamics (such as living with a spouse) and accessing some healthcare services (i.e., rehabilitation programs) can improve community integration two-years following a brain injury.

Importantly, this study indicates that there can be improvement in community integration and therefore recovery over time. The results of this study can perhaps be used to ensure that TBI patients receive the supports they need to achieve a high level of community integration in the years following their injury.

 Bhanu is involved in traumatic brain injury research and is interested in learning more about – and helping promote – recovery following brain injury. 

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