Dawes K1, 2, Carlino A1, van den Berg M2 and Killington M1, 2
1South Australian Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service, CALHN, SA Health, 2Flinders University, South Australia


Background and aims: Parental acquired brain injury (ABI) is particularly traumatic for children due to changes within interpersonal relationships and family functioning which increases their risk of childhood psychopathology. However, children typically receive minimal support. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of parental ABI on children and adult family members, including their views of the support provided, gaps, and recommendations for future interventions.

Method: Twenty-six participants were recruited from 12 families across the South Australian Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service (SABIRS) and external community brain injury agencies.  This study was guided by qualitative methodology via semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis.

Results: Analysis of interview data of 16 children, aged 5-18, and 10 adults revealed four main themes: 1) help parents help their children, 2) give children meaningful roles, 3) staff: don’t leave children ’in the dark’, and 4) support for children is not one size fits all.

Conclusions: Children and adults report significant gaps in support offered by acute, rehabilitation and community services. Children expressed a need for intervention to support their adjustment and improve family functioning. To fill identified gaps, participants recommend more input by clinical staff and the use of technology; specifically, the development of age-appropriate applications, educational videos and interactive games.

Future Studies: Phase 2 of this Research is about to commence to understand clinician’s perspectives and considerations of including children in clinical interventions after parental ABI. Phase 3 will be the development of digital tools via an experience-based co-design framework and a usability and feasibility study thereafter.

Kate Dawes

Kate has worked in sub-acute rehabilitation as the Principal Clinician Social Worker in the South Australian Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service/CALHN for the past decade. She is also a current PhD student at Flinders University. Kate is investigating the impact of parental acquired brain injury on their children, as a cohort often forgotten in support and education during the recovery process. Kate’s PhD focuses on filling gaps via the development of digital technology, developed by consumers and clinicians. Throughout her career, Kate has had significant experience in clinical practice with complex patients, developing, implementing and evaluating quality improvement initiatives and strategic planning.

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