Soy diferente: a qualitative study on the perceptions of recovery following traumatic brain injury among Spanish-speaking U.S. immigrants

Disabil Rehabil. 2022 Jun;44(11):2400-2409. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2020.1836045. Epub 2020 Oct 27.


Purpose: To explore the impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) on the quality of life (QoL) and self-concept of Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanic immigrants with TBI.

Materials and methods: A prospective, qualitative study conducted in a county level I trauma center and community. Semi-structured interviews on QoL and self-concept following TBI were conducted with 24 Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanic immigrants with TBI living in the community at least 6 months following injury.

Results: Perceived facilitators of QoL included faith, hopefulness in recovery, empathy for others, and support from others. Perceived barriers to QoL mentioned were symptoms/consequences of injury, employment/financial changes, loss of independence, fear/uncertainty, stigma/shame, lack of medical care, and decreased social integration. Participants described their self-concept after TBI as either a maintained self or loss of self. Those who viewed themselves differently reported physical and emotional changes, gender role conflict, loss of self-worth, and total loss due to the TBI.

Conclusions: Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanic immigrants held a strong faith and positive outlook after TBI in spite of the significant barriers to recovery. A need exists for programs to support creatively the recovery of Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanic immigrants with limited access to care and resources.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONSpanish-speaking U.S. Hispanic immigrants may experience significant barriers to care following traumatic brain injury (TBI), such as access to rehabilitation services and follow-up care.Rehabilitation professionals should consider the importance of faith and encourage positive thinking and social support when working with Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanic immigrants on how to cope with TBI-related challenges.Access to Spanish-speaking rehabilitation professionals, translators and Spanish language educational materials could help reduce language-related barriers to recovery among Spanish-speaking U.S. immigrants with TBI.Rehabilitation facilities should develop partnerships with community-based organizations serving the uninsured or underinsured to address the access to rehabilitation and medical needs of Spanish-speaking U.S. immigrants with TBI.

Keywords: Emigrants and immigrants; Hispanic Americans; quality of life; self concept; social integration; traumatic brain injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / rehabilitation
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life