Surviving the “silent epidemic”: A qualitative exploration of the long-term journey after traumatic brain injury

Aviva Margaret Lefkovits, Amelia J. Hicks, Marina Downing, Jennie Ponsford

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies examining life after traumatic brain injury (TBI) have taken a predominantly short-term and quantitative perspective, with generally narrow focus, and have not specifically investigated changes in experience over time post-injury to gain a uniquely long-term perspective. This study therefore aimed to qualitatively explore the broad long-term experience of living for 10 years or more with TBI. Thirty participants completed semi-structured interviews investigating the impact of TBI on various life domains, the rehabilitation experience and support received, and overall perspectives of the long-term journey after TBI. Results demonstrated that: (a) although some participants reported full recovery, several experienced persistent physical, cognitive and emotional problems that impacted their independence, employment and interpersonal relationships; (b) early rehabilitation was very helpful, but some participants experienced difficulties accessing ongoing services; (c) family and social support were important to recovery; (d) most participants drew upon inner strength to find positives in their experience. These findings have identified factors that facilitate and impede long-term recovery from TBI, which may inform better support and care for injured individuals over the years after injury to improve their quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1582-1606
Number of pages25
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Long-term recovery
  • Qualitative
  • Traumatic brain injury

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