a) Uniqueness of the individual   Next b)

i) Unique individuals

All people are unique individuals.

Yet the most important message for people
working with people with an acquired brain injury is:
people with an acquired brain injury are unique individuals.

So what is going on?

When working with people we usually make assumptions:

  • If you have the flu you assume that you will have a fever, aches and pains, a week off work ...
  • If there has been a bereavement in a family you assume that there will be a grief process possibly including denial, shock, anger .... acceptance...
  • If you are working with a person with an intellectual disability you assume that the disability will be maintained for life...

A person with an ABI has a brain injury. What can you assume? Not much.

  • People have injuries to different parts of the brain. So the effects of the injury will be different from one person to another.
  • Even where two people have a similar injury to the same part of the brain the effects can be different.
  • How people emotionally respond to what has happened to them will be different from one person to the next and the process is not typically linear.

Rules of thumb

1. Don't make assumptions:

  • When someone slurs their speech or can't speak well don't assume they are not thinking well. Question a little deeper.
  • When someone presents well and seems to be functioning well don't assume they are. Question a little deeper.

2. Get to know the person both over time and also for a period of time. See how they are when they are fatigued.


One worker said:

ABI is often a hidden disability. The person seems the same. They look the same as they did before. They may chat for ten minutes and nothing seems to be wrong - but after half an hour the deficits become clear.



ii) Wazza has an ABI (10 mins)


Wazza was in a car accident about 30 years ago. He was in hospital for a number of years. He has mobility and memory problems. He can't walk for long periods. He now lives in supported accommodation with another person Phil who also has a brain injury. He gives talks in the community to educate people about the impact of driving offences causing accidents.

Answer the following question?

What are some of Wazza's unique characteristics that are a consequence of the ABI?
  Check your answers here

Speech - separates words.

Difficulty with mobility - paralysis of right side and leg

Lives in supported accommodation

Difficulties with activities - e.g. bringing washing basket down the stairs, cooking (but can get the ingredients out).

Memory loss particularly with non-routine things.

Things need to be ordered, just so (his house mate is similar). Structure is very important to him.

Committed to getting the message about car accidents and brain damage and its consequences to others.


iii) Clip 20. Wassa's Support Worker : Before and after (1 min)

Wassa's support worker talking about before and after the ABI.


iv) Clip 22 . Wassa's Support Worker: People with ABI are different (45 sec)

Wassa's support worker talking about how people with ABI are different / unique




v) Questions

Answer the following questions:

Your service prides itself on providing individualised services to aged care clients. You have three new clients with an acquired brain injury. You have an existing staff member to support these clients.

You are explaining to the staff member that the work will be different from working with aged care clients. What are some of the things you say?
   Check your answers here

1. People with acquired brain injury have an injury to the brain. So the effects of the injury will be different from one person to another depending on what part of the brain is injured..

2. Even where two people have a similar injury to the same part of the brain the effects will be different.

3. So your three clients are likely to be very different.

4. People with an acquired brain injury had a life before the injury. Their life is different now. Working through grief and loss is part of the process of reconstructing their life.

5. People with an acquired brain injury will continue to develop their skills and abilities. Working with them is about increasing their independence. It is important to work with them in building their independence not just do things for them.

6. To work effectively with them you will need to understand their injury, the effect it has had, impairments they may have as a result of the injury and specific strategies for supporting people with these impairments.