Women and Traumatic Brain Injury: “It's not visible damage”
With advances in medical technology, more people are surviving major trauma experiences. Those with a traumatic brain injury are one such group who may survive for several decades with significant health consequences including physical, cognitive, and psychosocial sequelae. Traumatic brain injury sufferers are typically young males with a premorbid history of risk taking. Consequently, the differential needs of female traumatic brain injury survivors are less likely to be acknowledged in the literature or by allied health workers. A large quantitative and qualitative study of people with traumatic brain injury was conducted in rural areas of New South Wales, Australia in 2004–2005. The qualitative component of the study included in-depth interviews with 11 women and 21 men. This paper focuses on the interviews with the 11 women who live in two rural areas of New South Wales. These data illustrate the psychosocial consequences of traumatic brain injury for women. They reveal that women are particularly vulnerable to isolation, disempowerment, and in extreme cases, abuse, and are less likely to have a carer. The need for gender to be a factor in ongoing social work and allied health treatment and support of traumatic brain injury sufferers and their carers is evident from this research.
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