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Kao Hsueh-Fen S.; Stuifbergen, Alexa K.
Journal of Neuroscience Nursing: April 2004
Love and Load—The Lived Experience of the Mother-Child Relationship among Young Adult Traumatic Brain-Injured Survivors: PDF Only


This study aims to describe the meaning of the experience of the relationship between young adult traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors and their mothers using a phenomenological approach. Informants included 9 males and 3 females who were at least 2 years post-TBI, and their mothers, who were their primary caregivers after the injury. TBI informants were 18 to 25 years of age, had motor vehicle accident-induced injury, experienced post-traumatic amnesia longer than 24 hours, and were able to participate in a verbal interview. In addition, all informants currently were living with their mothers, who also participated in this study. Survivors acquired the sense of being abnormal from various sources, including social pressures, dynamics within the family, and intrapersonal changes. Mothers adopted both positive and negative actions during the period of uncertainty and often struggled to balance protecting their children and letting them become independent. They also struggled to maintain harmonious relationships with people both inside and outside of the family. Sometimes, survivors' parents marital relationships were at risk. Health professionals should design more appropriate long-term community interventions to help TBI survivors and their families decrease the burden of injury and the resulting stress, increase survivors' self-esteem, and improve quality of life of both survivors and their families, serving as a foundation for further TBI care.

Questions or comments about this article may be directed to: Hsueh-Fen S. Kao, PhD RN, by phone at 704/687-6155 or by e-mail at She is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Services, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Alexa K. Stuifbergen, PhD RN FAAN, is a professor and associate dean for research in the School of Nursing at the University of Texas at Austin.

© 2004 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses