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Brain Injury Losses – an Untold Story

acquired brain injury workshop

Brain Injury Losses – an Untold Story

As part of our 2023 Seed Grants programme, supported by Creative Ireland, Danielle Manning, a senior social worker with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, ran a series of workshops with traumatic brain injury survivors. Using a variety of creative practices, the aim was to explore how expressive art interventions can aid survivors work through grief and find hope for the future.

Approximately 19,000 people in Ireland acquire a brain injury annually. Through community-based rehabilitation services, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland help as many of them as possible return to leading independent lives. A core feature of Danielle’s work focusses on the disenfranchised grief associated with a brain injury diagnosis and the significant impact this has on individuals, families, and friends.

As Danielle told us:

Culturally, disenfranchised grief is not something that can be openly mourned or spoken about. As a result, many brain injury survivors and their loved ones struggle to address their grief. This can severely affect rehabilitation and in some cases result in family dysfunction / breakdown. Clients frequently present with low moods and anger, while family members are simply unable to cope.

Guided by an art therapist, the workshops culminated with participants creating a single image depicting their losses. While these images are designed to encourage open discussions with loved ones, it’s also hoped they will provide a deeper understanding to a wider audience of the grieving process for those affected by a brain injury and to promote development of grief interventions in brain injury services. For some this includes anger their grief was wrongly diagnosed as depression with no supports put in place to address the need to grieve the loss of the life they once had.

As Dannielle put it:

Ideally grief support needs to be high up on the care planning agenda for a brain injury survivor and should really begin at diagnosis. However, for this to happen effectively, more grief support training needs to be offered to hospital staff to ensure clients are not incorrectly diagnosed. Every effort should be made from the beginning to name grief and make individuals aware of the natural responses to grief and loss.

About Acquired Brain Injury Ireland

Our mission is to passionately serve and relentlessly advocate to empower and support people impacted by brain injury to rebuild their lives.

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland was founded in 2012 to address the growing neurorehabilitation needs of a very significant and often hidden complex disability group. Today it is a leading provider of community-based rehabilitation services for people living with a brain injury in Ireland. Through direct service provision to people with an acquired brain injury, the organisation also provides supports and services to family members who have been affected by brain injury and are struggling to cope. Through the provision of a range of neuro-rehabilitation services, clients and their families are supported to maximise the abilities of the person suffering from a brain injury.  
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About Danielle Manning

As part of the clinical team, Danielle Manning’s role as a senior social worker with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland involves addressing the social, emotional, and practical support of brain injury survivors and their families through therapeutic intervention. A core feature of her work centres around the disenfranchised grief associated with the diagnosis and the significant impact this has on the individual and family system. While every effort is being made to address their ongoing grief, deeper and more in-depth exploration is needed.