Open Menu
Get Regular Updates!

People

Search
|Revitalising rehab for Aboriginal brain injury
Revitalising rehab for Aboriginal brain injury

Revitalising rehab for Aboriginal brain injury

WA brain injury rehabilitation trial provides the link to missing Aboriginal voices.

Revitalising rehab for Aboriginal brain injury

Aboriginal Australians are almost three times more likely to have a stroke than non-Aboriginal Australians.

They are also 21 times more likely to suffer a head injury due to an assault.

Despite this, Aboriginal Australians are under-represented in long-term rehabilitation services. This fuels, and is fuelled by, a massive lack of communication.

This miscommunication has left Aboriginal brain injury survivors without the help they need. While families support their relatives as best they can, brain injury survivors can often become isolated, sometimes having to live away from their communities or live in aged care facilities where no one speaks their language.

Now, the once absent voices of Aboriginal brain injury survivors are informing a unique rehabilitation trial in WA.

BRAIN BLEEDS AND BUMPS

A brain injury is any damage to brain tissue.

It can come in the form of a stroke (which blocks the supply of oxygen to brain cells) or can occur in a physical impact such as a car crash, fall or blow to the head.

The effects of brain injuries are many and varied. Survivors may suffer physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural impairments. These disabilities may be mild or crippling. Every individual’s experience is unique. However, speech disorders are a very common side effect.

Beth Armstrong, Professor of Speech Pathology at ECU says, “The way you communicate, if that changes, it can change you as a person.”

This can have a devastating impact on brain injury survivors.

LANGUAGE IS NOT LOST

Thanks to the plastic nature of the human brain, communication skills can be relearned. In the same way adults can learn a foreign language, rehabilitation therapy allows people to retrain their brain.

Rehabilitation can also help people improve physically, relearn behavioural skills and improve cognition.

Unfortunately, rehabilitation is not a quick fix. Much like learning a new language, it takes time and diligence. Rehabilitation can also be very stressful. It takes a toll on individuals, friends and family.

Despite Aboriginal people suffering such high rates of brain injury, access to ongoing rehabilitation is rare. Without such therapy, they may be suffering, disabled and alone. A distressing thought—made worse by knowing that their condition can be helped with the right treatment.

MISSING VOICES BUSTS MYTHS

The absence of Aboriginal people in rehabilitation services has often led largely non-Aboriginal practitioners to assume they did not want therapy.

They assumed other illnesses were a priority or that Aboriginal people as a community were more adept at dealing with these hardships.

A 3-year investigation called Missing Voices debunked these myths.

By seeking an indigenous perspective, researchers found that Aboriginal Australians wanted more—more education, more information and more services along their rehab journey.

After learning about the detrimental issues at play, project lead Beth felt there were lots of avenues for improving the situation.

Now, she is spearheading research that trials a culturally secure approach to rehabilitation.

ENHANCING REHABILITATION SERVICES

Cultural security training and Aboriginal coordinators will be key in improving rehabilitation services.

Beth embarks on the WA-wide project with a number of partners.

Funding will take the clinical trial through until 2021, and it will encompass two parts.

Part 1

First, Aboriginal brain injury coordinators will be employed to work with brain injury survivors and their families.

Coordinators will be health workers or nurses who are Aboriginal. They will come into the hospital and meet the person and their family at the time of the injury. In the following 6 months, they will be in a position to offer them information, provide advocacy and liaise with health services.

Similar positions exist in other aspects of health, but there is currently nothing in Australia for brain injury.

Part 2

At eight participating sites, hospital staff who treat brain injury will receive cultural security training.

This training will encourage the staff to explain things in a way that’s more in line with Aboriginal concepts of health and wellbeing.

They will learn to communicate the different rehabilitation options that are available. There is no one ‘best rehabilitation practice’ that applies to everyone. It depends on the individual, their community and the injury itself.

TRIALS AND DIFFICULTIES

Recruiting for research can often be a challenge.

Brain injuries are traumatic and life changing. Individuals who have just suffered one may be resistant to being recruited for a trial.

This is a difficulty that must be overcome. Without clinical trials, we will continue to have insufficient understanding of what rehabilitation works best.

Recruiting people to the trial will come back to communicating the importance of rehabilitation, providing the help people need to see it through and conveying the contribution they are making to future service planning.

Only then can we begin to improve rehabilitation—for all Australians.

Particle
Puns

Postcard #10
The science story accelerator
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re a part of the precipitate.

Republish

Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.

Guidelines

You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.

Images

Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.

Video

All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.

Contact

For more information about using our content, email us: particle@scitech.org.au

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?