Correlates of Resilience in the First Five Years after Traumatic Brain Injury

While physical and cognitive deficits are widely recognized as consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI), some may be unaware of the emotional impact of a TBI in the post-injury period. The ongoing challenges after a TBI can cause a person to plummet into depression, or it can move a person to stand and fight for recovery. Emotional resilience – the personal traits that allow a person to flourish during a period of adversity – can be a significant predictor of patients’ long-term well-being after experiencing a TBI.

A recent Michigan study examined factors that promote resilience in the first five years after injury. Researchers administered a number of cognitive, emotional, and personality assessments to sixty-seven individuals who had experienced a TBI. They found that:
  • Resilience was not correlated with pre-injury intelligence, TBI severity, or cognitive flexibility.
  • Effective coping styles and perceived social support systems were highly correlated with resilience in the post-injury years.
  • Positive personality traits were associated with better resilience, but not as strongly as coping style and social support.

This study has important implications for post-injury treatment. In the years following a TBI, providing a patient with positive coping strategies and maintaining strong social support networks can foster resilience and result in healthier long-term emotional outcomes.

Source: Hanks RA, Rapport LJ. Correlates of resilience in the first five years after traumatic brain injury. Rehabilitation Psychology. (February 2016).

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