The meaning of living with traumatic brain injury in people with moderate or severe traumatic brain injury

J Neurosci Nurs. 2005 Feb;37(1):42-50. doi: 10.1097/01376517-200502000-00007.


A traumatic brain injury (TBI) extensively affects the injured person's daily life. Research based on the perspectives of people with TBI can increase understanding of the challenges they face and the possibility of supporting them in managing their lives. The aim of this study was to elucidate the meaning of living with TBI as narrated by the people with moderate or severe TBI. The data were collected by means of qualitative research interviews with 12 participants who had lived with TBI for 4-13 years. A phenomenological hermeneutic method was used to interpret the transcribed interviews. The study showed that people with TBI had lost their way and struggled to achieve a new normalcy. Losing one's way included experiences of waking up to unknown, missing relationships and experiencing the body as an enemy. Participants' struggles to attain a new normalcy included searching for an explanation, recovering the self, wishing to be met with respect, and finding a new way of living. Living with TBI seems to mean living with a perpetually altered body that changed the whole life and caused deep suffering, where feelings of shame and dignity competed with each other. Participants seem to be quite alone in their suffering and need more support from healthcare professionals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Brain Injuries / nursing*
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Quality of Life*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / nursing
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology