Identity transition following traumatic brain injury: A dynamic process of contraction, expansion and tentative balance
Muenchberger, H Kendall, E.Neal, R.
Primary objective: The study aimed to understand turning points and processes that define the experience of identity change for individuals with brain injury.
Research design: The current study applied an interpretive qualitative research design using a phenomenological approach. Qualitative ‘life-story’ interviewing was undertaken to explore the natural course of identity following TBI and a critical incident technique was applied to systematically examine key milestones.
Methods and procedures: A purposive sample of six individuals with brain injury who represented a successive range of post-injury time frames (1–2 years, 2–5 years, 5–10 years, 10–15 years, 15–20 years and 25+ years) participated in the interviews.
Main outcomes and results: Qualitative analysis indicated that identity transition was characterized by a dynamic and convoluted process of contraction, expansion and tentative balance.
Conclusions: The influence of subjective processes on the development of identity highlights the inadequacy of fragmented approaches when exploring the individual experience. Findings from this study have important implications for the delivery of person-focused rehabilitation and remind one to consider with caution the usual indicators of adjustment that are often applied to brain injury rehabilitation.