Completed projects

“We knew our lives were changed forever from that point.” Parental Adjustment and the Role of Social Support in Paediatric Acquired Brain Injury: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Sian Hocking, Dr Phil Yates, & Dr Anna Adlam)

Date Completed: 6th May 2015

Aims: The study aimed to add to the evidence-base by exploring parental experiences and the role of social support in adjustment to paediatric acquired brain injury (pABI). The study aimed to answer the following research questions: (i) How do participants make sense of their experiences as parents of a child with pABI? (ii) What are the experiences of psychological adjustment for parents of children with pABI? (iii) How do parents of children with pABI make sense of the role of social support in their experience of adjustment?

Methods: The study used interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to explore the experiences of adjustment and social support of parents of children with pABI. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 10 parents, of which 8 were mothers and 2 were fathers. Participants were individually interviewed.

Results and conclusions: Five superordinate themes emerging from the data were identified: 1) Lives changed forever, 2) Sense of self, 3) Interaction with services, 4) The psychological experience, 5) Coping and adjustment. Parents described feelings of shock, anxiety, anger, depression and loss following their child’s pABI. The findings suggested that psychological defense mechanisms, personal resilience and characteristics, cognitive strategies, and support from others all played a role in facilitating the adjustment of parents.

Implications: The findings of the study highlight a need for the availability of psychological assessment, formulation, and intervention during the initial aftermath of the pABI, and following discharge from hospital,  for parents and their families to manage difficult emotional and psychological experiences.  The study has indicated that the provision of support groups, and the facilitation of informal events, where parents can meet with those who are in a similar stage following the pABI, may aid parent’s adjustment and coping. Additionally, the study detailed the lack of public knowledge and awareness of pABI. The development of information sheets that detail common symptoms, and corresponding management strategies, following pABI, would be useful for parents to disseminate, particularly to schools.

Rehabilitation of Prospective Memory Deficits in Children and Adolescents (Steve Mahan, Dr Anna Adlam, & Prof Ed Watkins)

Date completed: 5th May 2015
Age range of participants: 10-15 years old
Participants: 3 participants with a diagnosis of TBI, 1 participant with a diagnosis of epilepsy, 1 participant under investigation for epilepsy, 3 participants with prospective memory deficits of unknown cause

Aims: To build upon the work of Rous (2011) and optimise the effectiveness of brief  ‘Remembering Goals’ Training (RGT) and external content-free cueing (in the form of “STOP” text messages) on Prospective Memory task performance and the achievement of real-life goals.

Methods: The Prospective Memory task required participants to send three text messages at set times and to complete three real-life goals each working day for a four-week period. After a baseline period, participants completed brief RGT via Skype twice during the study (once following baseline, and again half way through the study). The brief RGT supporting thinking skills that supported participants to stop, think about their goals for the day, and to organise and plan their activities accordingly. Participants learnt to associate texts reading “STOP” with mentally reviewing their goals and tasks for that day. Six “STOP” text messages (cues) were sent at random times on half of the days of the intervention. The number and accuracy of texts messages, and the achievement of real-life goals, were compared across cued and un-cued days to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention for each participant.

Overall findings: Five participants demonstrated improved PM text message performance and seven participants demonstrated improved performance in real-life goals. Most of the participants reported positive gains in self-reported PM abilities, and most parents of children with acquired neurological conditions reported reduced levels of family stress and burden following the intervention.

Implications: This research offers some evidence in support of the effectiveness of content-free cueing and RGT for supporting Prospective Memory abilities. The majority of participants engaged in more frequent and accurate Prospective Memory tasks and, most importantly, achieved more of their real-life goals as a result of the intervention.