RECENT research has revealed that traumatic brain injury (TBI) among elderly individuals is associated with changes in self-perception, social life, the ability to perform daily tasks, and a decline in overall quality of life for up to 5 years. This impact can be attributed to the natural decline in the molecular and cellular functions that typically occur during the ageing process, according to Rebeca Alejandra Gavrila Laic, Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven, Belgium, and colleagues.
The researchers attempted to qualitatively investigate changes in quality of life for older adults who sustained a TBI. They conducted a focus group study including six individuals aged 65 years and older, with a median age of 74, diagnosed with mild TBI, and admitted to the University Hospital (UZ) Leuven between 2016–2022.
A researcher selected the participants, and subsequently established contact via either telephone or email. The in-depth interviews, lasting around 90 minutes each, were conducted at UZ Leuven in May 2022, and covered topics such as functional disturbances and symptoms, issues with daily tasks, and feelings and satisfaction with life quality. Each participant’s interview occurred between 1–5 years following their TBI incident.
The findings revealed that the most common factors affecting post-TBI quality of life included a lack of functional support network, alterations in self-perception, negatively affected social life, and persistent physical ailments directly related to the injury.
The participants also reported a lack of depression symptoms and feelings of shame, with acceptance of an individual’s post-injury situation. Optimism for physical and emotional wellbeing were also shown as primary coping mechanisms.
The authors stated that, in their cohort, embracing the situation and having a strong support network were identified as factors that safeguarded the wellbeing of patients following a TBI. It should be noted that the study had a limited sample size, comprising only six older adults. Therefore, there is a need for continued efforts to offer psychological support, and establish a network of assistance for these patients during their recovery from injury.