Neurorehabilitation has been described as “a world where the spotlight has commonly turned away from context, power, co-production of meanings” (Weatherhead and Todd, 2014, xi). The treatment philosophy following traumatic brain injury (TBI) focuses upon physical needs, while complex, longer-term experiences (encompassing cognitive, psychological, emotional and social effects) are not prioritised. Biomedicine rarely embraces narrative approaches, which can offer nuanced insight into experiences beyond functional outcomes, such as satisfaction with activities or engagement in personally meaningful roles.
This study explores the ways people with TBI construct stories about managing their recovery and daily life after hospital discharge, using the methodology of narrative inquiry. Through maximum variation sampling, a range of post-injury experiences are explored. Each participant was asked to select a relative or significant other to participate in the interview, allowing inclusion of others’ stories, their differing concerns, needs and coping strategies.
Findings from interpretive analysis from four selected dyads will be presented, comprising particular stories of the ways in which people actively manage recovery within their own contexts. I incorporate reflection on my own role in the construction of shared meanings in undertaking narrative inquiry, on the background of my clinical work as a neurorehabilitation physician. This provides an opportunity to contrast individuals’ own experiences with the ‘master narrative’ of healthcare services for patients after TBI. Finally, I consider the potential application of findings from narrative inquiry to development and delivery of multidisciplinary support for people and families after TBI.