Psychological resilience is associated with participation outcomes after traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common cause of fatality and injury worldwide. Injuries related to TBI often include physical, cognitive, and behavioral impairments. As a result, individuals who struggle with these deficits may be less able to participate in employment, leisure activities, and healthy social relationships, causing an overall reduction in quality of life. Personal factors – such as resilience, or the ability to recover quickly from difficult circumstances – can also influence individual outcomes during the TBI recovery period and may serve to mitigate impairments associated with brain injury.

A recent study investigated the relationship between resilience and participation in normal lifestyle activities after TBI. Researchers assessed 245 participants who sustained a TBI at least three months prior. The participants completed a number of assessments designed to measure their participation in activities, their resilience, their verbal and learning abilities, and their psychological health. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that:

  • Resilience was a significant predictor of high participation. Individuals who were able to adapt to lifestyle changes after TBI were also more likely to maintain employment and participate in healthy social lives.
  • Individuals with higher levels of depression and anxiety had lower participation levels than those without psychological disorders.
  • Resilience provided protection from depression and anxiety, which in turn made individuals more able to participate in typical life activities.

The complications associated with TBI commonly reduce quality of life for months or years after the initial injury. However, personal factors like resilience and psychological health may enable individuals with TBI to continue participating in healthy lifestyle activities and maintain their pre-injury quality of life. Clinicians are advised to account for these personal psychological factors when designing individual treatment plans for people with TBI.

Wardlaw C, Hicks AJ, Sherer M, et al. Psychological resilience is associated with participation outcomes after traumatic brain injury. Frontiers in Neurology. (July 2018).

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