Acquired brain injury (ABI) affects social relationships; however, the ways social and support networks change and evolve as a result of brain injury is not well understood. This study explored ways in which survivors of ABI and members of their support networks perceive relationship changes as recovery extends into the long-term stage. Two survivors of ABI and members of their respective support networks participated in this case study integrating information from interviews, field notes, and artifacts. Inductive data analysis revealed themes of adjustment to impairments and compensations, connection changes with other people, feelings of protectiveness toward the survivor, emotional intensity, and the influence of personality traits on the recovery process. Application of these themes to intervention suggests health care professionals might benefit from shifting their focus from the survivor alone to the survivor functioning within a social support network.


Acquired Brain Injury, Social Support Networks, and Relationships


Completion of this work was supported in part by the Clinical Research Training Center at Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS) which is funded by the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health under grant numbers K30RR022251 and UL1RR024992. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIH.

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