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There is growing interest in the relationship between head injury, offending and recidivism and in developments in the criminal justice and forensic health systems to assess and manage the impact of associated brain injury. This chapter summarises evidence indicating that the head injury is particularly prevalent in offenders, and that it is likely to be a causative factor that increases the risk of criminal behaviour. This is explained in relation to the neurobehavioural effects of head injury and characteristics of offenders with head injury, the impact of brain damage early in life and the high risk of multiple head injuries. The need to assess head injury at key points in the criminal justice system and means of doing so is given, together with a context of interventions, service need and directions for future research.
To examine the effects of pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) on verbal IQ by severity and over time.
A systematic review and subsequent meta-analysis of verbal IQ by TBI severity were conducted using a random effects model. Subgroup analysis included two epochs of time (e.g., <12 months postinjury and ≥12 months postinjury).
Nineteen articles met inclusion criteria after an extensive literature search in MEDLINE, PsycInfo, Embase, and CINAHL. Meta-analysis revealed negative effects of injury across severities for verbal IQ and at both time epochs except for mild TBI < 12 months postinjury. Statistical heterogeneity (i.e., between-study variability) stemmed from studies with inconsistent classification of mild TBI, small sample sizes, and in studies of mixed TBI severities, although not significant. Risk of bias on estimated effects was generally low (k = 15) except for studies with confounding bias (e.g., lack of group matching by socio-demographics; k = 2) and measurement bias (e.g., outdated measure at time of original study, translated measure; k = 2).
Children with TBI demonstrate long-term impairment in verbal IQ, regardless of severity. Future studies are encouraged to include scores from subtests within verbal IQ (e.g., vocabulary, similarities, comprehension) in addition to functional language measures (e.g., narrative discourse, reading comprehension, verbal reasoning) to elucidate higher-level language difficulties experienced in this population.
This qualitative study aimed to identify the service and support needs of people with a recent history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) living in the community.
A postal survey was sent to 662 people 6–18 months after hospital admission for a mild-to-severe TBI. The survey included an open-ended item (‘wish-basket’) for collecting ideas about important unmet needs.
Responses from 53 individuals were coded and processed using thematic analysis. Five themes (n = 39) were identified, three of which were related to personal needs. These personal wishes were about being symptom-free, independent and emotionally supported by, and connected to, loved ones. The remaining themes were about the wished-for changes to the health system and society, such as wishing for health care continuity (as opposed to being abandoned), and for greater understanding and support by society.
There is scope to improve the services and support for people living with TBI in the community. This includes reconsidering the way that discharge occurs, addressing the personal needs that remain when living in the community and promoting greater social awareness of TBI to counteract disadvantage.
To investigate the experiences of significant others when their loved one with a severe acquired brain injury (ABI) is being discharged from an ABI-specific rehabilitation unit.
Significant others of loved ones with an ABI participated in interviews close to their loved ones being discharged from inpatient ABI rehabilitation.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and thematic analysis applied. Additionally, the drawing method was also used which involved participants drawing what it was like for them as their loved one was going home. Image analysis was then combined with the interview data.
Eight significant others participated in interviews on discharge and completed a drawing describing their experience. Five themes were identified (Change, Mixed feelings, Support of family and friends, Journey and Staff interactions).
The experience of having a loved one with a severe ABI in rehabilitation is an emotional event. Compassionate communication, consistency of information and thorough discharge planning practices were cornerstones to enhancing the experience of significant others, empowering them to undertake their new role.
Responses to brain injury sit in the intersection between neuroscience and an ethic of care, and require sensitive and dynamic indicators of how an individual with brain injury can learn how to live in the context of a changing environment and multiple timescales. Therapeutic relationships and rhythms underpinning such a dynamic approach are currently obscured by existing models of brain function. Something older is required and we put forward narrative types articulating outcomes of brain injury over various periods and starting points in time. Such storytelling challenges a static neuropsychological paradigm and moves from an ethics that focuses on patient autonomy into one that is reflective of the cognitive supports and therapeutic relationships that underpin ways that the patient can re-find the beat that proves the music is not over.
Disorders of consciousness (DOC) continue to profoundly challenge both families and medical professionals. Once a brain-injured patient has been stabilized, questions turn to the prospect of recovery. However, what “recovery” means in the context of patients with prolonged DOC is not always clear. Failure to recognize potential differences of interpretation—and the assumptions about the relationship between health and well-being that underlie these differences—can inhibit communication between surrogate decisionmakers and a patient’s clinical team, and make it difficult to establish the goals of care. The authors examine the relationship between health and well-being as it pertains to patients with prolonged DOC. They argue that changes in awareness or other function should not be equated to changes in well-being, in the absence of a clear understanding of the constituents of well-being for that particular patient. The authors further maintain that a comprehensive conception of recovery for patients with prolonged DOC should incorporate aspects of both experienced well-being and evaluative well-being.
In this paper, we critically explore the discourse of change post brain injury and challenge the dominant discourse of negative change, which alone leaves little room for other perspectives to exist. These negative changes pose a considerable risk to the well-being of families who may benefit from engaging in richer accounts making room for a more coherent and connected sense of self and family post-injury. We explore how narrative approaches provide opportunities for all practitioners to expand their professional scripts and support families to move towards a future which is not dominated by a discourse of loss. While loss and negative change is an important and very real consequence, of brain injury, focusing purely on stories of loss is life limiting for family members and can cause psychological distress. The life thread model is offered as a visible tool for all practitioners to engage with and use while working with families, providing a concrete focus for reflection and discussion of narratives relating to change which otherwise can feel quite abstract in everyday practice. We argue that one way we can humanise our professional practice is to support all practitioners to engage in a narrative understanding of family change following ABI.
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries commonly present with a wide range of long term emotional and behavioural problems which are often classed as organic neuropsychiatric conditions. These range from mood disorders such as depression, emotional lability, apathy, anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, specific phobia or Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or long term personality change. These neuropsychiatric co-morbidities influence quality of life and outcomes and cause significant distress to the patient. Hence, accurate and early recognition and appropriate management of these problems is important. Development of post-traumatic epilepsy can further influence neuropsychiatric presentations following moderate to severe brain injury. A range of neuropsychiatric presentations following moderate to severe traumatic brain injury are described and an approach to management is discussed.
Attention and memory deficits are common following paediatric acquired brain injury (ABI). However, there are few evidence-based interventions to improve these domains and benefit the everyday life of children post-injury. The Amsterdam Memory and Attention Training for children (Amat-c) has been translated from Dutch to English and shown to improve attention and memory skills in children following ABI. This protocol describes a study to expand accessibility of the program by using online, clinician-supported delivery with children post-ABI.
The study is a randomized controlled trial. Participants will be 40 children aged 8–16 a minimum of one-year post-ABI. Participants in the treatment group will complete 18 weekly sessions of the Amat-c program with weekly online clinician support. Participants in the active-control group will be administered ABI psychoeducation via a booklet for parents, with weekly online clinician contact. Attention and memory will be assessed at three time points up to six months post-intervention.
Analysis will be repeated measures multivariate planned comparisons; using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (IBM SPSS Statistics) General Linear Model procedure will compare pre- and post-intervention and six-month follow-up outcomes.
If shown efficacious in improving attention and memory, our team will then take a key role in implementing Amat-c into clinical care.
The clinical profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults admitted to hospital with neurological injury is not well documented. Understanding these profiles may enable health professionals to provide more culturally responsive health care for this patient group. This study aimed to report the clinical profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults admitted to a regional Queensland hospital due to stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
A 2-year retrospective medical record review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults (≥18 years) admitted to a regional Queensland hospital with principal diagnoses of stroke or TBI.
There were 132 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult stroke (51.5%) or TBI (48.5%) admissions. The mean ages were 56.7 years for stroke and 42.7 years for TBI. The majority of patients (83.3%) were of Aboriginal descent with others identifying as Torres Strait Islander only, or both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. Patients were from 26 diverse home locations across northern Australia, primarily Outer Regional or Remote/Very Remote geographical locations. All patients’ language backgrounds were documented as English only. Over 90% of stroke and 50% of TBI patients presented with medical co-morbidities.
Patients had diverse geographical locations and cultural backgrounds, with many likely impacted by dislocation from home and country, as well as potential delays in receiving treatment. Despite this diversity, English was documented in patients’ medical records as their only language. The majority of patients also presented with multiple medical co-morbidities. Health professionals should consider these factors to ensure patients receive optimum and culturally responsive health care.
Patients with disorders of consciousness after severe brain injury need surrogate decision makers to guide treatment decisions on their behalf. Formal guidelines for surrogate decisionmaking generally instruct decision makers to first appeal to a patient’s written advance directive, followed by making a substituted judgment of what the patient would have chosen, and lastly, to make decisions according to what seems to be in the patient’s best medical interests. Substituted judgment is preferable because it is taken to preserve patient autonomy, by using a patient’s past wishes and values to reconstruct what they would have chosen for themselves. In this paper, the author argues that for a certain population of patients, the standard interpretation of substituted judgment cannot ensure the preservation of patient autonomy. Patients with “covert awareness” may continue to have values and an authentic sense of self, which may differ from their past values and wishes. Accordingly, surrogate decision makers should make decisions based on how the patient is likely to experience their condition in the present, rather than their past wishes and values.
The uptake of smartphones as external compensatory memory aids following an acquired brain injury (ABI) in rehabilitation settings is low. Potential reasons for this include professionals not having evidence-based guidelines regarding the best methods to train smartphone use and prospective users not being familiar with technology and/or having memory and learning difficulties. This paper describes the protocol of a study that aims to compare the efficacy of three training methods (Systematic Instruction, Error-based Learning and Trial-and-Error) for training the use of a smartphone reminder app, in people with ABI presenting with memory complaints.
This is a three-armed, assessor-blinded, Phase II randomised controlled trial. The estimated sample size is 51 participants aged >18 years, who are equally randomised to one of the three training groups. They are seen across four sessions: one to conduct baseline measures; one for training the use of an app and two for follow-up assessments (1- and 6-weeks post-training). The main outcome measure is proficiency of performance in tasks with the trained app. Secondary outcomes include generalisation of skills to other apps, number of errors committed while attempting the tasks, frequency of smartphone usage in general and as a memory aid and confidence in smartphone use and memory self-efficacy. Outcome measures are collected by an independent blinded assessor. Proficiency of performance, generalisation of skills and error commission are measured immediately post-training and at the two follow-up sessions. The other secondary measures are taken pre-intervention and at the two follow-up sessions.
This study will provide initial evidence regarding the efficacy of three different methods to train ABI survivors with memory difficulties in how to use smartphone apps as compensatory memory aids. The results could inform a larger Phase III trial and advance knowledge concerning the advantages or disadvantages of using error-reducing and trial-and-error techniques. Further, the findings could determine the potential of error-based learning as an emerging training method for people with memory impairment within rehabilitation.
In traumatic brain injury (TBI), future integration of multimodal monitoring of cerebral physiology and high-frequency signal processing techniques, with advanced neuroimaging, proteomic and genomic analysis, provides an opportunity to explore the molecular pathways involved in various aspects of cerebral physiologic dysfunction in vivo. The main issue with early and rapid discovery in this field of personalized medicine is the expertise and complexity of data involved. This brief communication highlights the CAnadian High-Resolution Traumatic Brain Injury (CAHR-TBI) Research Collaborative, which has been formed from centers with specific expertise in the area of high-frequency physiologic monitoring/processing, and outlines its objectives.
The interdependence between patient and caregivers’ health, which is when the patients’ and informal caregivers’ emotion, cognition and/or behavior affects that of the other person is well documented among dyads experiencing cancer and heart disease, but scant research has assessed interdependence among those with brain injuries or dementia and Latina/o populations. This study aimed to assess the interdependence of patient and caregiver depression, patient functional independence and caregiver burden among non-Latina/o and Latina/o and patients with brain injuries and dementia and their caregivers.
Patients and caregiver dyads (n = 96) were recruited from a trauma hospital. Participants completed measures on patient and caregiver depression, patient functional independence and caregiver burden. Participants provided written informed consent. Patient inclusion criteria included: (1) diagnosis with a brain injury or dementia, (2) minimum age of 12, (3) community dwelling and (4) ability to verbally communicate and complete study measures. Caregivers were only included if they were informal, unpaid, family or a friend. Nonparametric Spearman’s Rho correlations were conducted to test the study hypotheses.
There was consistently a statistically significant positive relationship between caregiver depression and caregiver burden for all groups. For non-Latina/o patient and caregiver dementia dyads, there were associations between patient depression and caregiver depression. For non-Latina/o dementia dyads, functional ability was only associated with patient depression. For Latina/o patient and caregiver brain injury and dementia dyads, the only statistically significant relationship was between caregiver depression and caregiver burden. Health services should embrace family-focused mental health and respite interventions.
In Mexico, physicians have become part of public service prehospital care. Head injured patients are a sensitive group that can benefit from early advanced measures to protect the airway, with the objective to reduce hypoxia and maintain normocapnia.
The occurrence of endotracheal intubation to patients with severe head injuries by prehospital physicians working at Mexico City’s Service of Emergency Medical Care (SAMU) is unknown.
A retrospective analysis of five-year data (2012-2016) from Mexico City’s Medical Emergencies Regulation Center was performed. Only SAMU ambulance services were analyzed. Adult patients with a prehospital diagnosis of head injury based on mechanism of injury and physical examination with a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) <nine were included.
A total of 293 cases met the inclusion criteria; the mean GCS was five points. Of those, 150 (51.1%) patients were intubated. There was no difference in the occurrence of intubation among the different GCS scales, or if the patient was considered to have isolated head trauma versus polytrauma. Fifteen patients were intubated using sedation and neuromuscular blockage. Four patients were intubated with sedation alone and six patients with neuromuscular blockage alone. One patient was intubated using opioid analgesia, sedation, and neuromuscular blockage.
Patients with severe head injuries cared by prehospital physicians in Mexico City were intubated 51.1% of the time and were more likely to be intubated without the assistance of anesthetics.
Housing for people with acquired brain injury (ABI) or spinal cord injury (SCI) remains a significant issue in Australia and internationally. This review examined the current research evidence regarding the efficacy of housing alternatives for adults with ABI or SCI in relation to four principal outcomes of interest: the person’s (1) community integration/participation, (2) independence, (3) psychosocial well-being and (4) quality of life. The review also sought to identify how the reported efficacy of the housing alternatives might be impacted by individual factors.
For this systematic review, quantitative empirical, peer-reviewed research published after 1 January 2003 was sought. Ten journal articles met the eligibility criteria. None of the included studies comprised an adult SCI sample.
The research identified lower levels of community integration/participation, independence, psychosocial well-being and quality of life for adults (particularly younger adults) with ABI living in ‘structured settings’ (i.e., residential care) compared to those living in ‘home-like’ environments (i.e., private homes) and ‘disability-specific’ settings (i.e., shared supported accommodation, group homes, foster care homes, cluster units).
More research is needed to compare ‘home-like’ and ‘disability-specific’ settings, and individual housing models more generally (i.e., living at home with friends vs with family vs living in shared supported accommodation vs living in residential care). This review identified a number of limitations in the current evidence base and several important directions for future research. Policymakers, architects, designers, builders, developers, funding agencies, international researchers as well as people with ABI or SCI and their families may benefit from the findings of this review.
In this paper, the author argues that Joseph Fins’ mosaic decisionmaking model for brain-injured patients is untenable. He supports this claim by identifying three problems with mosaic decisionmaking. First, that it is unclear whether a mosaic is a conceptually adequate metaphor for a decisionmaking process that is intended to promote patient autonomy. Second, that the proposed legal framework for mosaic decisionmaking is inappropriate. Third, that it is unclear how we ought to select patients for participation in mosaic decisionmaking.
Long-term patient outcomes after severe brain injury are highly variable, and reliable prognostic indicators are urgently needed to guide treatment decisions. Functional neuroimaging is a highly sensitive method of uncovering covert cognition and awareness in patients with prolonged disorders of consciousness, and there has been increased interest in using it as a research tool in acutely brain injured patients. When covert awareness is detected in a research context, this may impact surrogate decisionmaking—including decisions about life-sustaining treatment—even though the prognostic value of covert consciousness is currently unknown. This paper provides guidance to clinicians and families in incorporating individual research results of unknown prognostic value into surrogate decisionmaking, focusing on three potential issues: (1) Surrogate decisionmakers may misinterpret results; (2) Results may create false hope about the prospects of recovery; (3) There may be disagreement about the meaningfulness or relevance of results, and appropriateness of continued care.