Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of disability in Australia. Evidence shows that multidisciplinary rehabilitation and support in the six months following TBI is important for successful independent living and social re-integration. Despite this, access to services and supports during this period is often limited by environmental, socio-economic, geographic and cultural factors. Australian studies on outcomes after brain injury have reported primarily on non-Indigenous people. This study will investigate key sentinel events during the transition from hospital to home after a TBI in the first longitudinal study with Indigenous Australians.
Method: Indigenous Australians admitted to one of three major trauma hospitals in northern Australia with a TBI, and their care givers, will be recruited. Clinical and brain injury risk factor information, along with measures of cognitive function, transition events, mental health and community re-integration will be collected at three time points prior to hospital discharge, and at three and six months post-discharge. Qualitative interviews will also be conducted. Data will be analysed using regression methods for the quantitative component, and situational analysis for the qualitative component. Annual rates of brain injury will be calculated for patients admitted to tertiary hospital facilities in the study region with a diagnosis of TBI.
Discussion: Understanding the experience and events which shape the transition period is critical to determining the services and supports that may enhance transition outcomes, and ensure that such services are culturally appropriate and endorsed by Indigenous families and communities.