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The aim of this qualitative study was to understand processes involved in the maintenance and development of friendships after a person sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Four people with severe TBI from rural settings in Australia identified one-to-two friends to be interviewed. A total of nine friends participated in a semi-structured interview. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and data was analyzed using principles of grounded theory.
The overall conceptualisation that emerged from the data described the process of friends actively placing themselves within the friendship with the person with TBI. Two major processes were evident which enabled friends to actively place themselves within the friendship. They were (1) making sense of the TBI and its consequences and (2) maintaining normality in the friendship.
Friendships can be maintained following a TBI when friends actively place themselves within the friendships. Friends are able to do this when they make sense of the TBI and its consequences and maintain normality. There are a variety of ways that friends achieve this.
of this study was to examine the Twitter experiences and networks of six adults with cognitive-communication disability after a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Using mixed methods, the study integrated: (a) quantitative analysis of Twitter networks using computational and manual coding of tweets; and (b) narrative analysis of in-depth interviews.
Diverse experiences were evident, with two experienced and four novice users of the platform. However, all reported feeling connected and included, and identified both positive and negative experiences in their use of Twitter. Developing a supportive network facilitated higher frequency of tweets and increased feelings of enjoyment and connectedness. All expressed a desire to continue using or learning to use Twitter but novices lacked support from rehabilitation professionals or experienced Twitter users, and relied instead on a “trial and error” approach.
Proactive integration of Twitter use during rehabilitation after TBI is warranted to support safe, enjoyable, and meaningful use.
Background: A previous clinical trial of training communication partners of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) demonstrated positive outcomes [Togher, Power, McDonald, Tate, & Rietdijk (2009). Brain Impairment, 10(2), 188-204]. Adapting communication partner training for delivery via telehealth could improve access to this intervention.
Objectives: To compare outcomes across in-person communication partner training, telehealth communication partner training and a control group
Method: Protocol for a partially randomised controlled trial. People with moderate-severe TBI will be allocated to either an in-person or telehealth-based training program. Comparison data will be drawn from the original trial control group, which was recruited using the same eligibility criteria as this protocol. Outcomes after training will be compared between the in-person training group, the telehealth training group and the historical control group.
Discussion: This protocol uses specific design features with the aim of maximising the study’s power, including a partially randomised allocation process and a historical control group. The results will inform about the feasibility and effectiveness of delivering TBI rehabilitation via telehealth.
Trial registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12615001024538.
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) affects a range of language and cognitive domains that impact on conversation. Little is known about conversation breakdown in the semantic variant of PPA (svPPA, also known as semantic dementia). This study investigates conversation of people with svPPA.
Dyadic conversations about everyday activities between seven individuals with svPPA and their partners, and seven control pairs were video recorded and transcribed. Number of words, turns, and length of turns were measured. Trouble-indicating behaviors (TIBs) and repair behaviors were categorized and identified as successful or not for each participant in each dyad.
In general, individuals with svPPA were active participants in conversation, taking an equal proportion of turns, but indicating a great deal of more trouble in conversation, shown by the significantly higher number of TIBs than evidenced by partners or control participants. TIBs were interactive (asking for confirmation with a shorter repetition of the original utterance or a repetition which included a request for specific information) and non-interactive (such as failing to take up or continue the topic or a minimal response) and unlike those previously reported for people with other PPA variants and dementia of the Alzheimer type. Communication behaviors of the partner were critical to conversational success.
Examination of trouble and repair in 10-min conversations of individuals with svPPA and their important communication partners has potential to inform speech pathology interventions to enhance successful conversation, in svPPA and should be an integral part of the comprehensive care plan.
Little is known about clinicians’ experiences in rehabilitation for people with traumatic brain injury (TBI). This survey study aimed to investigate clinicians’ scope of practice, perceived barriers to practice, factors influencing confidence levels and professional development preferences. Participants included 305 clinicians (88% female, 97% aged 20–60 years) from psychology (28%), occupational therapy (27%), speech pathology (15%), physiotherapy (11%), social work (6%), rehabilitation medicine (3%) and nursing (3%) disciplines. Survey results indicated that goal setting, client or family education, and assessment for rehabilitation, were the most common activities across all disciplines (>90%). Client-related barriers, family-related barriers and client–therapist relationship barriers were more frequently selected than workplace context and professional skill barriers (p < .05). Clinicians working with clients with mild TBI reported significantly fewer barriers (p < .05); yet, they were less confident in overcoming barriers than clinicians working with clients with more severe TBI (p < .001). Clinicians with fewer years of experience (<2 years) reported significantly lower confidence in overcoming barriers than clinicians with 2–10 years and >10 years of experience (p < .01). The most commonly selected professional development areas included new interventions and therapies, translating rehabilitation research into everyday practice and client specific topics. These findings provide a unique multidisciplinary perspective on clinicians working in TBI rehabilitation in Australia. Understanding of the perceived barriers to practice and professional development needs may guide training and support initiatives for clinicians which, in turn, may enhance the quality of brain injury rehabilitation.
Primary objective: Social cognition underlies social skills and can be disrupted in numerous developmental and acquired brain disorders during childhood and adolescence. Despite this, there are few tools to assess social cognition clinically in this age group. This study examined adolescent performance on The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT), a valid measure of social cognition in adults.
Design: Cross-sectional design examining performance on Parts 1, 2 and 3 of TASIT (and alternate forms) in Australian girls and boys with varying levels of English familiarity.
Methods: 665 schoolchildren from private and government schools were administered TASIT subtests. Of these, 464 students aged 13–15 were selected to provide normative data. Scores from a further 97 provided information about the effects of lack of English familiarity.
Results: The two Forms of TASIT were statistically equivalent for two of the three parts. Adolescents performed lower than adults, although the differences were not large. Some incremental effects were seen for chronological age. Gender effects were apparent on all subtests. Lack of English familiarity (i.e., English not spoken at home) reduced scores a further 6–13% relative to high English proficiency.
Conclusions: TASIT appears to be suitable for adolescents. Norms are best aggregated across ages in adolescence and stratified according to gender.
This paper describes the value of collaboration from two perspectives. The first perspective highlights the benefit of teaching communication partners collaborative communication strategies to facilitate the interactions of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Collaborative strategies encompass the provision of collaborative intent, emotional and cognitive support, positive questioning styles and collaborative turn taking. Translating research outcomes into accessible resources is described with reference to the TBI Express website which has video demonstrations of conversation strategies for communication partners of people with TBI. The broader meaning of collaboration is also discussed, with particular focus on the advantages collaboration can provide in advancing rehabilitation outcomes for people with acquired brain injury, their families and social networks. Collaboration is described in terms of encompassing all relevant contributors to the development of research advances, including people with acquired brain injury, their families and social networks, stakeholders, clinicians, peak bodies, students and researchers. Two examples of large-scale research collaborations occurring within Australia are described, including the NHMRC Clinical Centre of Research Excellence in Aphasia Rehabilitation and the NHMRC Moving Ahead Centre for Research Excellence in Brain Recovery, also known as Moving Ahead.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in children and adolescents can impair social cognition and communication skills but there are few assessment tools suitable for adolescents. The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT) uses professionally enacted audiovisual vignettes of everyday conversational exchanges and is a valid measure of social perception disorders in adults. This study examined its utility for assessing impairments in social cognition in a group of 16 adolescents with TBI, compared to a group of 16 typically developing (TD) adolescents. Adolescents with TBI were, on average, no different to their TD peers on TASIT 1 (emotion recognition) and TASIT 3 (recognizing lies and sarcasm when provided with additional cues) but performed more poorly on TASIT 2 which required them to interpret sarcastic and sincere conversational exchanges with few cues other than the demeanor of the speakers. Within the TBI group, poor performance on TASIT correlated to both relative and self-reported communication difficulties at home. It also correlated with IQ, face recognition and severity of injury as indexed by duration of post-traumatic amnesia. Overall, this study suggests TASIT is a valid measure for adolescents although it raised questions as to how effective normative data is for comparing performance in social cognition during childhood and adolescence. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–11)
This paper describes the added value that arises from capitalising on academic and social networks for researchers and people with acquired brain injury. First, it is proposed that brain injury researchers are connected within six degrees of separation. As a model, ‘The Oracle of Bacon’ demonstrates how any actor can be linked through his or her film roles to the actor Kevin Bacon within six steps. This concept is extrapolated to the existing networks of brain injury researchers. Capitalising on these networks can lead to potent and ground-breaking discoveries. The Clinical Centre of Research Excellence (CCRE) in Aphasia Rehabilitation provides an example of the benefits of networking and collaboration in the quest to improve the lives of people with aphasia. The CCRE uses multiple theoretical perspectives in studies evaluating the assessment and treatment of aphasia. It is utilising capacity building, knowledge translation and a community of practice to inform and expand research capacity. Networks can also be used to improve the communication of people with brain injury within their everyday environment. A recent study is described where communication partners were trained to improve the interactions of people with traumatic brain injury, which led to improvements in social networks and improved engagement in life activities. Finally, it is suggested that with the advances in e-communication, there is a great deal of scope for the use of social networking technologies in the assessment and treatment of people with acquired brain injury.
Severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the most common cause of brain injury in the Western world and leads to physical, cognitive and emotional deficits that reduce independence. Changes to psychosocial function are the most disruptive, resulting in vocational difficulties, family stress and deteriorating relationships, and are a major target for remediation. But rehabilitation is expensive and its evidence base is limited. Thus, new collaborative initiatives are needed. This article details the development of ‘Moving Ahead’, a model for a Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) for Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation. This CRE offers several major innovations. First, it provides an integrated, multi-faceted approach to addressing psychosocial difficulties embracing different clinical standpoints (e.g., psychological, speech pathology, occupational therapy) and levels of investigation (e.g., basic science to community function) across the lifespan. It is based upon a close relationship with clinicians to ensure transfer of research to practice and, conversely, to ensure that research is clinically meaningful. It provides an integrated platform with which to support and train new researchers in the field via scholarships, postdoctoral fellowships, websites, meetings, mentoring and across-site training, and thus build workforce capacity for individuals with TBI and their families. It has input from the international community to contextualise research more broadly and ensure scientific rigour. Finally, it provides collaboration across sites to facilitate research and data collection.
This article reports on the design of a three-arm, nonrandomised controlled trial of interventions targeting social communication skills following traumatic brain injury (TBI) in adult participants. People with severe TBI were allocated to one of the three groups: the TBI group, where only the person with TBI was trained, the JOINT group where both the everyday communication partner (ECP) and the person with TBI were trained together, and a delayed treatment control condition. The trial is comparing whether including everyday communication partners in the training process provide additional benefit when compared to training the person with TBI alone; and additionally, whether training the person with TBI alone is more effective than no training. A range of primary and secondary outcome measures will be used to evaluate outcomes. Publishing the protocol prior to the results of the trial being available has several important benefits (Godlee, 2001). The original hypotheses and intentions of the research are made explicit to ensure that the process of conducting this clinical trial is transparent to readers, and so that comments may be made before results are finalised. It provides the opportunity to outline a detailed description of this intervention and methodology, or to acknowledge changes to methodology, which may assist with eventual clinical application of the intervention. This article also informs the research community of the work that is underway to promote opportunities for collaboration and reduce unnecessary duplication of research. The protocol for this trial has previously been registered on Current Controlled Trials (http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN57815281).
This article presents preliminary findings on an investigation into the differences in communicative performance across varying speaking conditions, of an individual with a cognitive–linguistic impairment following traumatic brain injury (TBI). The article compares the communicative exchanges of an individual in a conversation with a therapist, a conversational dyad with a peer with TBI, and in a communication group task where they were interacting with other participants with TBI. The speaking conditions studied included an unstructured chat, the participant requesting information and the participant giving information. Results showed that the person with TBI responded to differences in communication partner and speaker role. He was best able to give information in the unstructured chat with the clinician and the information giving session in the group. Requesting was maximally facilitated in the information request condition with the clinician. Qualitatively, however, the most equal interactions occurred with the peer, with evidence of the person with TBI engaging in typical conversational strategies such as establishing common ground to facilitate topic development and co-constructing the discourse topics. These strategies did not occur in the clinician or group interactions, possibly due to power imbalance in the former and impaired cognitive–linguistic ability in the latter situation. Implications for clinical decision making regarding intervention strategies for patients with cognitive–communication deficits are discussed.
Primary objective: Recent research studies attest to the presence of deficits in emotion perception following severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Additionally, a growing number of studies report significant levels of alexithymia (disorder of emotional cognition) following TBI. This research aimed to examine the relation between the two, while assessing the influence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Design: Cross-sectional study examining levels of alexithymia, emotion perception disorders and PTSD and their association, in 20 people with severe, chronic TBI and 20 adults without brain injuries. Methods: Participants were assessed on the Toronto Alexithymia — 20 Scale, the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale and on two emotion perception tasks: matching and labelling of photos depicting the 6 basic emotions. Results: The group with TBI were impaired relative to controls when matching facial expressions. Their performance on ‘fear’ was especially poor. Performance on labelling was similar in pattern, although failed to reach significance. There was no association between poor performance on fear, or other negative expressions, and either PTSD or alexithymia symptoms in the TBI group. Conclusions: Alexithymia, as assessed by the TAS-20, taps a constellation of difficulties that do not appear to include difficulties with emotion perception in people with traumatic brain injuries.
In the context of evidence-based clinical practice (EBCP), the reliability of empirical data is largely determined by the methodological quality of research design. PsycBITE™ (Psychological Database of Brain Impairment Treatment Efficacy) is a web-based database listing all published, empirical reports on the effectiveness of nonpharmacological interventions for the psychological consequences of acquired brain impairment (ABI). The aim of this study was to survey the listings of PsycBITE™ and examine the methodological quality of the reports it contains. Reports listed in PsycBITE™ include systematic reviews (SRs), randomised controlled trials (RCTs), non-RCTs, case series (CSs) and single-subject designs (SSDs). They are indexed according to research design, neurological group, patient age group, target area and intervention type. The PEDro Scale is used to rate the methodological quality of RCTs, nonRCTs and CSs, with maximum obtainable methodological quality rating (MQR) of 10/10, 8/10 and 2/10 respectively. A search identified 1298 reports indexed in PsycBITE™. The largest proportion was SSDs (39%), followed by CSs (22%), RCTs (21%), non-RCTs (11%) and SRs (7%). The majority of reports was concerned with stroke (41%), traumatic brain injury (29%) and Alzheimer's and related dementias (22%). The most frequently investigated deficits were communication/language/speech disorders (24%); independent/self-care activities (19%); behaviour problems (17%); memory impairments (17%); anxiety, depression, stress, adjustment (15%). Approximately half of the RCTs, non-RCTs and CSs were rated for methodological quality. Mean MQR scores for RCTs, non-RCTs and CSs were 4.49, 2.85 and 1.15 respectively. While some PEDro criteria were met by a high proportion of RCTs and non-RCTs (≥ 70%), other criteria were only met by a small proportion of reports (as low as 1.6%). There was no significant difference in MQR scores between RCTs focusing on different neurological groups or target areas. Furthermore, there was no discernible improvement in MQR score for RCTs published over the last three decades. The methodological quality of studies investigating the efficacy of rehabilitation interventions in ABI has been consistently modest over several decades. This is largely attributable to poor adherence to fundamental tenets of research design, and requires urgent remediation. RCTs (and to a lesser extent, non-RCTs) are research methodologies which can potentially yield a high level of evidence, but only if they are adequately designed. PsycBITE™ has the facility to raise awareness of these issues and be instrumental in promoting EBCP in the field of ABI.
The current study was designed to determine whether the Social Performance Survey Schedule (SPSS; Lowe & Cautela, 1978) is a useful measure of social skills in people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Forty-nine adults with TBI were compared on the SPSS to 190 adults without injuries. The validity of the SPSS was also investigated in relation to another measure of social performance, the first scale of the Katz Adjustment Scale (KAS-R1; Katz & Lyerly, 1963) and a broad measure of social function (the SPRS; Tate, Hodgkinson, Veerabangsa, & Maggiotto, 1999). Individuals with TBI had significantly lower scores on the positive scale of the SPSS than nonbrain-injured individuals. They did not have lower scores on the SPSS negative scale relative to the normative sample. Significant correlations with the KAS-R1 and SPRS provided evidence for the construct and criterion validity of SPSS within this population. In conclusion, this study suggests that where an appropriate normative sample is used, the positive subscale of the SPSS is a sound measure for detecting the extent and nature of deficits in prosocial behaviour seen in TBI, but raises the question as to how we define negative behaviours in the 21st century on scales such as the SPSS.
Research into communication disorders has been undergoing a slow revolution over the past few decades with some fascinating advances and some exciting new directions ahead. The major change in emphasis that has emerged is an interest in assessing communication as this relates to real-life everyday type situations. In particular, three major thrusts can be identified. The first is the application of socially relevant linguistic theory to communication disorders. Thus, theorists such as Halliday have provided useful frameworks for identifying patterns in discourse. In turn, these have revealed the strengths and weakness of speakers with aphasia or other communication disorders (e.g., traumatic brain injuries) and also what their conversational partners do to help or hinder this process. The second is an examination of how cognitive processes, including memory, inferential reasoning and social cognition, contribute to communicative competence in people who have communication disorders but not aphasia, such as those with Alzheimer's disease, with traumatic brain injuries and with right hemisphere lesions. The third is the adoption of a more integrated approach, whereby verbal and nonverbal behaviours are examined in detail for their communicative meaning, for both the purposes of characterising communication breakdown and for developing an integrated treatment approach.