The Narrated Lives of People Affected by Acquired Brain Injury Living in Rural Areas

  • Claire Brewis

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Disruption to the life narrative is a common long-term experience following acquired brain injury. It can lead to barriers in being able to fulfil roles and engage in daily activities and occupations. Disruption occurs not only for the person who sustains the brain injury, but is also an experience for significant others in their lives. This narrative study gathered participants’ personal ‘sense making’ of life events following such disruption. Extended narrative interviews were combined with a photo-elicitation technique for six people with acquired brain injury and six people who had a significant other in their life with an acquired brain injury, all living in a rural area. It involved discussion around the patterning of their daily activities and roles both pre and post injury. Narrative analysis led to individual case studies of barriers and opportunities to lives impacted by brain injury. Issues were highly individualised and whilst the rural context presented an advantageous place to live for some due to tranquillity, it was less advantageous for others. However, synthesis of findings across cases considered the narrative form produced by the twelve accounts. This revealed that individuals drew on attributes of previous roles and careers to construct meaning and manage their lives, even when they could no longer engage with past roles and careers. Approaches to self-management post injury appeared to follow a pattern of drawing on internal schema underpinned by values, skills and meaning of previous roles and careers. This constitutes a form of capital built up from life pre-injury that is being utilised to achieve health and wellbeing, which I have called ‘embodied occupational capital’. An opportunity to work with individuals whose lives are affected by acquired brain injury has been offered, by way of focusing on this ‘embodied occupational capital’ to empower them to make positive change.
Date of Award20 Oct 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorAnna Van Wersch (Supervisor)

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