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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (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
Number of pages25
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Jul 2020


  • Long-term recovery
  • Qualitative
  • Traumatic brain injury

Cite this