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Preliminary results of study into brain injury survivors’ experiences of lockdown
A researcher at the University of Sunderland - Dr Stephen Dunne - has been investigating the experiences of loneliness after brain injury and how brain injury survivors have experienced life in lockdown. He recently shared some preliminary insights into the results of the ongoing study with Headway – the brain injury association…
"While loneliness for the wider population was something rarely previously experienced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, for those living with a brain injury the everyday reality is often very different. Brain injury results in a range of different challenges for survivors and as a population, which places brain injury survivors at a greater risk of facing isolation, social exclusion, and loneliness.
"With the pandemic causing global disruption to everyday life through quarantines and lockdown, Headway and the University of Sunderland have teamed up to explore the experiences of brain injury survivors throughout the past year.
"Preliminary conversations have been enlightening with participants highlighting a number of key themes, largely around lockdown providing a greater awareness of what living with a brain injury is like, with one survivor commenting 'our lives have mainly been the same but the difference is to other people’s lives'.
"However, this increased awareness has been short-lived at times. When restrictions have been eased, one survivor told of their frustrations with how quickly friends forgot about their issues. 'People stopped asking what would be easier for you'.
"These frustrations and anxieties around the easing of quarantine procedures in the UK has been a recurring theme so far, with one survivor commenting, 'That’s the problem that most brain injury survivors have, people don’t understand what the issues are…everyone’s got their own lives to lead and do what they want to do. We just get left behind'.
"Loneliness is a common experience after a brain injury, but from the data we have gathered so far, the social restrictions placed by the pandemic have not changed life too significantly for those living with a brain injury. This may be explained by the adaptation that comes with sustaining a brain injury. Friends and family drifting away, changes to the way people socialise and adapting to a new normal are commonplace after brain injury.
"Instead, the pandemic has created a ‘level playing field’, where those without a brain injury have a snapshot of what life post-brain injury is like. This project will continue to explore these pertinent issues as lockdown eases."