A change in residence also represents dramatic financial, social, and emotional changes in the lives of survivors of traumatic brain injury. The long-term effects of residence changes had not been previously been examined, but was important in order to properly anticipate the evolving needs of patients and families. A collaborative effort of researchers in the United States recently analyzed these long-term changes. The following summarizes their results.
Immediately after discharge
In a sample of nearly 7,000 survivors of moderate or severe traumatic brain injury, about one-third were discharged from rehabilitation into a residence that was different than before their injury. Many people who had lived alone before their injury were discharged into living arrangements with parents or other family members. Although most of those who lived with parents, family members, or a spouse before their injury returned to their former home, there were still many who were discharged to a care facility.
Within a year after injury
Within a year after injury, more people who had lived alone prior to their injury were able to return to independent living (increased from one-third to half). There was no significant change in residence for those who had previously lived with a spouse or significant other. The number of people who were still living in a care facility was smaller.
Up to five years after injury
The half who were able to return to independent living continued to live alone. The number of people who returned to live with parents or other family members decreased over time so that only half of those still lived with family after five years. The number of people who lived with a spouse or significant other also decreased after five years, possibly because of dissolution of the relationship.
Parents or other family members often provide a supportive system for people with moderate to severe brain injury. However, these results also show that half of those who had lived alone before their injury, and one-third of those living with a spouse or significant other, were not able to return to their previous residence.
Penna S, Novack TA, Carlson N, et al. Residence following traumatic brain injury: A longitudinal study. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (January 2010).