Traumatic Brain Injury

Chandrashekar and Benshoff (2007) recently published the results of a study that aimed to determine whether a specifically-designed training for people with traumatic brain injury would make a difference in the perceived quality of life reported by these individuals. The authors of this study effectively presented the high incidence rate of this disability. The different levels of severity among people with brain injuries was also discussed, differentiating people who will have long-term effects of disability from those that recover without long-term consequences.

Unlike many experimental designs, the findings from this study are relevant to the work of a number of professionals working with people with disabilities. Rehabilitation counselors, specifically, can apply these findings to the formation of groups to provide enhanced quality of life to their clients with traumatic brain injury. While the literature review of this study provided a comprehensive view of this diverse population, the description of actual participants is limited. Little information is provided about the range of severity among participants in this specific study.

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The regional location of participants was specified as a limitation of the generalizability of these findings. A strength of these authors’ description of data collection methods is their detailed review of the numerous instruments used in this protocol. Because a number of different assessments were used, the authors carefully described each instrument, including the Awareness Questionnaire and the Wisconsin HSS Quality of Life Inventory and Awareness Questionnaire. The inclusion of validity and reliability estimates allowed readers to critique the fit of the assessments selected for this investigation.

It was an especially positive addition to this publication that the authors located test-retest and validity statistics garnered from work with this particular population, people with traumatic brain injury. All statistics presented indicated the instruments utilized were statistically sound. The logistical procedures were also explained in depth, including the breakdown of time spent with participants and the empirical evidence that was used to make these determinations. More information could have been provided about the Quality of Life and Awareness Training (QLAT), which comprised the experimental treatment for this study.

The main training goals are provided but not enough information is available to replicate the study. The dependent variables for this study were the scores on the Wisconsin Quality of Life Inventory and the Awareness Questionnaire. The independent variable was participation in the QLAT. There were two levels to this independent variable, participation and control. An ANOVA was conducted to compare mean scores of posttest differences, so it could be determined whether or not participation in the training program was beneficial.

The results of this study are presented in tables that allow readers to easily see the different outcomes. The investigators of this study found only a limited significant difference between the experimental and control group. Participants with traumatic brain injury that participated in the training group demonstrated in increased awareness of their physiological needs, but few other improvements were statistically significant. The limitations discussed in the article provide several possibilities for these findings. The training groups were held in different locations and the quality of training provided was not standardized.

Perhaps the greatest weakness of this study is observed in the sampling procedures. Participants were placed into groups according to convenience of their counselors. Both the control and experimental groups were dominated by males and the age group surveyed was slightly older than the average age of the population of people with brain injuries. This study’s implementation and description was strong, but several improvements are needed. Random sampling procedures paired with a more demographically diverse sample would greatly improve the design of this study.