1) Understand the experience, and personal significance, of mobility skills for people with severe mobility impairment after brain injury 2) Determine how these evolve over time.
Longitudinal qualitative study.
Ten adults, unable to walk at 8 weeks post-injury.
Participants were interviewed up to three times, at three-month intervals. Semi-structured interviews were transcribed and coded independently by two researchers, then themes developed. Codes were then reviewed longitudinally.
Initial analysis derived six themes: I lost everything overnight; It feels frustrating; Walking is absolutely the most important; I need help; I'm making progress; I can start doing things that I used to be able to do. Participants described overwhelming losses, with loss of mobility affecting many aspects of life. All participants described progress other than walking that was critical for their wellbeing, including assisted standing and transfers without a lifter. Themes from longitudinal analyses: My losses softened by progress; Walking means freedom; Control helps adjustment happen; Challenges keep coming. Over time, participants valued greater control within their lives and progress with mobility was key.
Participants saw mobility as crucial to recovering control of life. Mobility achievements other than independent walking matter to individuals after brain injury.