The need for an integrated approach to rehabilitating individuals with a brain injury as the result of violence

Dr Annerley Bates1, Dr Lyndel Bates2, Mr Durc Fahrenhorst-Jones3

1Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service, Department of Social Work, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland Health, , Australia, 2School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University, , Australia, 3School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, , Australia

There is limited research regarding the effect of assault-related or violence related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). This is despite violence-related TBIs being estimated to range from 6% to 26% as a proportion of all TBIs. This study involved the hospital records of 65 individuals with an assault-related TBI. They were seen by the Queensland Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service Social Work team between 2011 and 2015. In most cases, the person was the victim of the assault. The injured individuals had contact with a range of allied health professionals within the rehabilitation service including social work, occupational therapy, neuropsychology, speech therapy, physiotherapy and audiology. According to the hospital records, 36 participants also had contact with at least one agency within the criminal justice system regarding the violence that caused their injury. The results indicate that, those who did not have contact with a criminal justice agency, were more likely to use alcohol after their injury. Of those who did have contact with a criminal justice agency, they were more likely to report difficulty with planning, organisation and undertaking tasks and indicate that they were thinking more slowly and having difficulty with expression. For those people who are interacting with both the health care and criminal justice systems, it is important that they can communicate what occurred and the subsequent effects clearly. Given that there appears to be some difficulty with the skills required to do this, such as planning and thinking, multi-disciplinary healthcare teams may need to work together to ensure that individuals injured by violence are supported as they interact with the criminal justice system.


Dr Annerley Bates is a Senior Social Worker with the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland. She commenced her research in the field of student learning when she completed her Honours year. She developed this further during her PhD when she investigated the transition of graduates into professional work as Statutory Child Protection Officers. In 2017 she completed her Post-doctoral work focussing on brain injury because of violence, the impact on families and carers and the significance of an inpatient peer support group.

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