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You only get one brain: adult reflections on coping and recovery after traumatic brain injury in adolescence.

Brain Injury 2023 September 20
BACKGROUND: TBI during adolescence can result in significant acute symptoms that can persist into adulthood. This research analyzed retrospective qualitative accounts of young adults who had sustained a TBI in adolescence to explore coping and recovery processes specific to this developmental stage.

METHODS: Thirteen adults (aged 20-25 years; mean 23 years) who sustained a mild ( n  = 12) or moderate ( n  = 1) TBI during adolescence (aged 13-17 years at injury), approximately 7.7 years (range = 6.7-8.0 years) prior, participated. Semi-structured individual interviews, analyzed using thematic analysis, explored participants' experiences following their TBIs.

RESULTS: Thematic data analysis produced two key categories of themes relating to recovery processes: (1) Individual factors impacting coping, with themes of learning to cope with difficulties, seeking acceptance and balance, and finding meaning; and (2) Social factors impacting coping, which included themes of feeling included, relying on family, professionals didn't get it, and lacking someone who understands.

CONCLUSIONS: Recovery following TBI sustained during adolescence could be maximized by facilitating greater understanding of specific impacts on young people among clinicians and family, longer term monitoring of symptoms including emotional reactions to symptoms, and the provision of emotional support.

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