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Indigenous youth are vulnerable to concussion when playing hockey. A clear characterisation of sex differences among Indigenous youth could assist in tailoring future education programmes for prevention and management of concussion. The purpose of this study was to compare and contrast concussion knowledge, attitudes and resources in First Nations girls and boys playing recreational hockey.
The cross-sectional survey was conducted in partnership with a First Nations’ chief, other Indigenous community leaders and a tertiary care head injury clinic. In Canada, researchers engaging with Indigenous peoples are expected to adhere to principles of Ownership, Control, Access and Possessions. The study included Indigenous boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 18 years of age.
More girls attending the hockey tournament participated in the study as compared to boys (girls n = 46, boys n = 29). More girls reported they had never experienced a concussion (73.9%), as compared to boys (58.6%) self-reports. Less than half of all study participants were able to identify some signs and symptoms of concussion such as vomiting/nausea, memory problems, fatigue and blurred vision and recognition of several concussion symptoms varied by sex.
We created a unique partnership between Indigenous leaders and tertiary care clinic staff. Among Indigenous youth reasons for not reporting concussion symptoms to the coach varied by sex (although not reaching statistical significance), suggesting concussion education warrants tailoring for girls and boys.
The overarching cultural context of the brain injury survivor, particularly that related to minority peoples with a history of colonisation and discrimination, has rarely been referred to in the research literature, despite profoundly influencing a person’s recovery journey in significant ways, including access to services. This study highlights issues faced by Australian Aboriginal traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors in terms of real-life consequences of the high incidence of TBI in this population, current treatment and long-term challenges.
A case study approach utilised qualitative interview and file review data related to five male Aboriginal TBI survivors diagnosed with acquired communication disorders. The five TBI survivors were from diverse areas of rural and remote Western Australia, aged between 19 and 48 years at the time of injury, with a range of severity.
Common themes included: significant long-term life changes; short-term and long-term dislocation from family and country as medical intervention and rehabilitation were undertaken away from the person’s rural/remote home; family adjustments to the TBI including permanent re-location to a metropolitan area to be with their family member in residential care; challenges related to lack of formal rehabilitation services in rural areas; poor communication channels; poor cultural security of services; and lack of consistent follow-up.
Discussion and Conclusion:
These case reports represent some of the first documented stories of Aboriginal Australian TBI survivors. They supplement available epidemiological data and highlight different contexts for Aboriginal people after TBI, contributing to an overall profile that is relevant for rehabilitation service planning.
A growing body of qualitative literature globally describes post-hospital experiences during early recovery from a traumatic brain injury. For Indigenous Australians, however, little published information is available. This study aimed to understand the lived experiences of Indigenous Australians during the 6 months post-discharge, identify the help and supports accessed during transition and understand the gaps in service provision or difficulties experienced.
Methods and Procedure:
Semi-structured interviews were conducted at 6 months after hospital discharge to gain an understanding of the needs and lived experiences of 11 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who had suffered traumatic brain injury in Queensland and Northern Territory, Australia. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Five major themes were identified within the data. These were labelled ‘hospital experiences’, ‘engaging with medical and community-based supports’, ‘health and wellbeing impacts from the injury’, ‘everyday living’ and ‘family adjustments post-injury’.
While some of the transition experiences for Indigenous Australians were similar to those found in other populations, the transition period for Indigenous Australians is influenced by additional factors in hospital and during their recovery process. Lack of meaningful interaction with treating clinicians in hospital, challenges managing direct contact with multiple service providers and the injury-related psychological impacts are some of the factors that could prevent Indigenous Australians from receiving the supports they require to achieve their best possible health outcomes in the long term. A holistic approach to care, with an individualised, coordinated transition support, may reduce the risks for re-admission with further head injuries.
Increasingly, narrative and creative arts approaches are being used to enhance recovery after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Narrative and arts-based approaches congruent with Indigenous storytelling may therefore provide benefit during the transition from hospital to home for some Indigenous TBI patients. This qualitative study explored the use and impact of this approach as part of a larger, longitudinal study of TBI transition with Indigenous Australians.
A combined narrative and arts-based approach was used with one Indigenous Australian artist to describe his transition experiences following TBI. Together with the researchers and filmmaking team, the artist was involved in aspects of the process. The artist contributed two paintings, detailing the story of his life and TBI. Based on the artworks, a film was co-created. Following the viewing of the film, impacts of the narrative and arts-based process were examined through semi-structured interviews with the artist, a service provider and a family member. Multiple sources of data were used in the final thematic analysis including transcripts of the interviews and filming, paintings (including storylines) and researcher notes.
Positive impacts from the process for the artist included positive challenge; healing and identity; understanding TBI and raising awareness.
This approach may enable the individual to take ownership over their transition story and to make sense of their life following TBI at a critical point in their recovery. A combined narrative and arts-based approach has potential as a culturally responsive rehabilitation tool for use with Indigenous Australians during the transition period following TBI.
A high prevalence of dementia among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has been reported but knowledge of underlying causes and associations remains limited.
To identify the prevalence of factors that may be associated with the categories of Major neurocognitive disorders (Major NCDs) in Aboriginal people living in residential aged care facilities in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory (NT).
Design and Setting:
This descriptive cross-sectional study analysed clinical file and cognitive assessment data of participants who were identified as having cognitive impairment between January and June 2016.
Screening for the presence of cognitive impairment using the Kimberley Indigenous Cognitive Assessment (KICA) was undertaken and 58 of 84 Aboriginal people were admitted to the study. Using a clinical file audit, diagnoses of Major NCDs consistent with the DSM-5 classification were made and the prevalence of factors possibly associated with these diagnoses described.
Fifty of the 58 participants were diagnosed with a Major NCD. The most frequent diagnoses were Major NCD due to vascular disease (30%), Major NCD due to Alzheimer’s Disease (26%) and Major NCD due to brain injury (20%). Hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and alcohol misuse were commonly reported together with hypothyroidism, hypoglycaemia and vitamin D deficiency.
This study identified possible associations with Major NCDs in this population as well as a different spread of Major NCD diagnoses to previous studies in Aboriginal populations. There is a need for further research to understand the causes of dementia in Australian Aboriginal people and to use this information to appropriately tailor treatment and prevention programmes.
The current study explored the experiences and aspirations of a cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults with neurocognitive disability residing in a homeless shelter in regional Queensland, Australia. Neurocognitive disability (NCD) refers to any acquired disorder or injury to the brain where the primary clinical deficit is in cognitive function.
The data reported on in this paper emerged from a broader study that aimed to understand the extent and nature of neurocognitive disability amongst homeless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The broader study found high levels of NCD which impacted on people’s ability to participate in society. As part of the study, qualitative information was sought regarding participant life experiences. A culturally safe and acceptable structure of “past, present and future” was applied to open-ended questions.
Thematic analysis of the data identified four broad themes of i) normalisation of illness and disability; ii) trauma and loss; iii) socioeconomic disadvantage; and iv) hope and disempowerment. This paper reports on these themes and experiences, which occurred across the life span, intersected with NCD, and contributed to what we have termed ‘complex disablement’ amongst this cohort.
While causal links between life experience, disability and disablement are not always clear, our findings suggest that attempts to address homelessness must engage with this complexity. The application of holistic, intersectoral supports, which encompass culturally informed, community driven approaches are needed. Understanding the impacts of individual and intergenerational trauma is crucial to safe and effective service provision for this cohort.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious consequence of intimate partner violence (IPV) that is often overlooked. In the case of Indigenous women in Canada the challenges are broad, multidimensional, and left almost entirely unexplored. Given the elevated rates of violence and injury experienced by women exposed to IPV and the increased levels of physical assault among Indigenous women in Canada, it is important to understand the unique experiences and service needs of these women. This study sought to identify barriers and facilitating factors for TBI-sensitive service provision for Indigenous women experiencing IPV.
As part of a larger national stakeholder consultation process to develop a TBI educational toolkit for IPV service providers, input from Indigenous stakeholders was specifically sought to allow for insights into unique challenges and strengths related to this population. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with IPV direct-service providers, support professionals, and advocates working with Canadian First Nations and Inuit women.
Findings suggest that multiple intersections of marginalization, shame and stigma, and colonization, coupled with significant barriers to service provision in remote communities are such that solutions generated for urban-based settler populations are ineffective.
Recommendations include a widespread educational campaign to raise awareness of the seriousness of TBI among Indigenous women exposed to IPV. Education is particularly important among healthcare and direct service providers, survivors and their families and communities, legal professionals and child protection agencies, and Indigenous and settler government bodies. Future research should focus on expanding our understanding of this complex issue and developing culturally sensitive, community-based supports.