Drawing experiences of my loved one having a severe brain injury: Evolution in rehabilitation

Mr Martin Checklin1

1Epworth Healthcare, Balacalava, Australia


To investigate what is it like for family/care giver of a patient with a severe acquired brain injury during their stay in rehabilitation.

Thematic analysis was conducted on data obtained from semi structured interviews and the drawing method (participants drew what their experience was like). Data was collected at two timepoints (admission and discharge).

Nine participants were interviewed and from the analysis, seven themes on admission were identified and five on discharge. Admission themes were Trauma (from acute experience); Relief (the loved one has survived); Interactions (processes and communications); Change (role of carer and in the LO); Grief and loss; Journey (progression and hope) and Uncertainty. Discharge themes were: Mixed Feelings (about moving forward); The ABI unit (custom built, staff expertise and staff attitude); Support of family and friends; Journey and Change.

Significance of the findings to allied health:
Clinicians have a major role in supporting the carer at this stage and can negatively or positive influence the family member’s stress levels. Positive behaviours include providing information and communication compassionately, providing specialist care, offering practical information (e.g., timetabling, pre-discharge leave, meetings) and giving reassurance. Many of the participants carried high levels of trauma from the acute phase, so these findings are not only relevant to rehabilitation clinicians but also acute clinicians. Additionally, the drawing method is discussed how it can enhance data collection in people’s perspectives and experiences


Martin Checklin is a Senior Speech Pathologist at Epworth Healthcare. He has completed a Masters in Speech Pathology and a Masters in Health Evaluation and Research. He has an interest in making services better for those with either brain injury or head and neck cancers.