Providing Culturally Relevant Brain Injury Treatment

This marriage and family therapist talks about common issues after TBI.

Download the transcript for the video.

When you're working with people from different cultures it would be very important to slow down the process and understand what their world views might be. The way that they view the brain injury may be very different than how people in western culture may view it. For example, in western culture we know that the brain injury is due to damage to the brain. There's been some bruising. It's caused some injury to the frontal lobes, for example. So that's a very biological, scientific way of looking at it. Families from other cultures may not view it quite the same way. They may view it as due to illness or maybe due to fate or God's will, and it's not uncommon for families to say to me, it's as if they equate it with craziness or he's mental. And somehow because a brain injury is part of the brain, people often equate anything to do with the brain or any changes related to the brain as "mental." So part of it is education for families to help them understand that a brain injury is not the same as mental illness, and hopefully that helps to reduce some of the stigma that families might experience around how they're viewing their family member's injury. The other thing that's important in addition to understanding their world views about the brain injury is what are the sources of help that they think are meaningful? What do they think is going to help their family member recover or get better? So for some family members, it may not be traditional rehabilitation such as Occupational Therapy or Physical Therapy or Speech and Language Pathology. For other families, it may be prayer or it may be folk remedies, and if these are the sources of help that would be meaningful for the family, we need to incorporate that as part of the rehabilitation plan and acknowledge that that's a form of help that will make a difference for this family.
Posted on BrainLine April 29, 2009. Reviewed January 16, 2018.

About the author: Caron Gan, RN

Caron Gan is an Advanced Practice Nurse, Registered Psychotherapist, and Registered Marriage and Family Therapist with the Ontario and American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). She has worked with clients with brain injury, providing psychotherapeutic intervention to youth, adults, couples, and families.