The essay seeks to explore the interaction between health conditions, environmental, and personal factors in the lives of people experiencing disability. It provides a disability case of a 38-year old female living in Cloncurry, western Queensland in Australia. The case entails an acquired brain injury following a road accident involving a motorbike. It explains various impacts of the injury on the family. Besides, the essay discuses relevant bodies whose primary role is to provide information on brain injuries. Most importantly, it highlights the challenges that are experienced at the personal level by the disabled individuals.
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The concept of disability has been a critical area of investigation amongst many scientists, scholars, and medical practitioners. Sociologists have always experienced cases that involve people with diverse disabilities. Some common disabilities include poor sight, limited mobility, chronic ailments, and hearing loss among others. Various personal and environmental factors determine the health conditions of the people living with disability. Disabilities usually influence a person’s behaviour in ways that have significant effects on their personality and character. This essay explores the interaction between health conditions, environmental, and personal factors in the lives of people experiencing disability.
I am Maria, a 38-year old female living in Cloncurry in Western Queensland. I am a married wife who lives with a husband and three school-aged children. Since my accident that occurred in 1993 when my motorbike hit a wall at approximately 90 kilometres per hour, I have been suffering from a brain injury. This condition has been severe for many years until recently. I have been experiencing various challenges including interacting with the family, friends, and the society. As a result, I feel isolated owing to the state of my brain.
Interaction between Health Conditions, Environmental, and Personal Factors in the Lives of People experiencing Disability
According to Chang and Johnson (2013), both personal and environmental factors have significant effects on the behaviour of a person. These aspects include the person’s physical state, personality, character, and the sense of self. Personal factors also regard various communication skills that help the person with disability interact with other people in the society.
Acquired Brain injury
The traumatic brain injury resulted from the extent of the impact of collision with the wall forcing the brain to develop severe transient neurological dysfunction. This problem resulted in severe neurobehavioral sequelae that led to changes in both my cognitive and behavioural patterns. Other problems entail physical injuries, fatigue chronic pain, and sleep disturbances (Chang & Johnson, 2013).
Although the impacts stated above have been a concern, the most disturbing part of the accident is the subsequent cognitive, behavioural, social and emotional impairments. These personal factors have disrupted my normal life. Currently, cannot read properly due to memory loss. This situation had led to the loss of job since I cannot make proper reasoning and judgment of a situation (Iaccarino, Bhatnagar, & Zafonte, 2014). Besides, maintaining proper communication with other people has worsened, as I cannot speak fluently while paying attention to the conversation. I get angered easily. In most cases, I overreact to situations. I also get depressed due to the condition; hence, I fail to run my family affairs the same way I did before the incident occurred. Mainly, I feel isolated and lonely. Most of my friends and relatives have deserted me due to the behaviours I show to them such as aggression, complaints, anger, and fatigue, which hinder me from participating in social work (Iaccarino et al., 2014).
Impacts of the Injury on the Family
Various external factors have also influenced my disability state. The accident has brought about many problems to my family. Since my admission to the hospital, my family entered a financial predicament. The increasing medical expenses have left the family battling for money to cater for other goings-on. This situation has made my husband to work extra hard, and for more hours, to earn some extra money for family upkeep. My children have also been affected both psychologically and emotionally. Furthermore, their schooling programme has been changed from that of a boarding setup to day schooling to save money (Iaccarino et al., 2014).
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My return from the hospital was also met with various challenges. The family had a difficult time accommodating my situation, especially due to the need to adjust to new roles. For instance, sometimes my husband gets angry when he recalls that I carelessly over speed the motorbike. On the other hand, my mother is stressed up due to the recovery time and ever-increasing hospital expenses. My sister-in-law has always been by my side. In some cases, she gets bored, isolated, and fails to commit fully to the family. With the progressing recovery, the family members and friends who used to visit me in the hospital deserted us (Iaccarino et al., 2014).
Relevant Bodies that provide Information on Brain Injuries
Various relevant bodies provide information on brain injuries in Cloncurry, Western Queensland. These bodies are based at the international, national, and local levels. At the international level, the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS) Australia is charged with the responsibility of providing information on brain injury (Wong, 2014). At the national level, the Guardianship boards and tribunals in all the states of Australia and Health Workforce Australia conduct such programmes. At the community-based level, the Rural Workforce Agencies and Rural Health Professionals Program operates the activities (Wong, 2014). The programmes conducted by the bodies include the promotion of life skills, domestic duties, communication, financial management, and driving classes among others. At the local area, various organizations available in ensuring a holistic management of the daily activities of living with respect to my brain injury include the Indigenous Community Engagement Project in North Queensland (NQ) and North West Community Rehab (Wong, 2014).
The main challenge that I have been experiencing at a personal level since I got brain injury is the feeling of personal isolation. The loneliness state has been brought about by the hectic experience that my husband, children, friends, and other family members have been going through to make sure that I heal physically, psychologically, and emotionally in addition to changing my behaviour (Chang & Johnson, 2013). It has also been difficult for me to make new friends due to my mental state (Andelic et al., 2010).
My close friends are usually frustrated with my state, a situation that has made them to move on. My husband has also been affected psychologically due to my brain injury. He always sees me as a self-centred person, cannot respond to his needs, and frequently changes my moods (Chang & Johnson, 2013). Furthermore, he does not feel loved as before. As a result, he often withdraws himself and feels as if I am the source of all the problems. This set of circumstances implies that he is slow in adjusting to my conditions (Iaccarino et al., 2014).
After my admission to the hospital, some heightened tensions arose amongst the family members and caregivers who felt restrained by the terms and settings of the hospital, which was also far from home (Chang & Johnson, 2013). Various family members and caregivers felt guilty of taking the responsibility for my care instead of focusing on family needs. They felt that their children and other family members felt neglected and isolated (Chang & Johnson, 2013).
This condition has affected my children greatly, especially the last-born who is mostly distressed. Their schooling has also changed to the day programme to save some money for medication and rehabilitation thereby affecting them emotionally (Andelic et al., 2010). The eldest child takes care of me while the others engage themselves in family chores, especially in holidays. This state of affairs has made them feel neglected by other family members. Besides, my husband has also been under frustration since he goes extra miles to work harder, changing his relationship and responsibility roles to ensure that everything is conducted as required. He works extra hours. Sometimes, he gets bored and even blames himself for having purchased the motorbike (Iaccarino et al., 2014).
The development of friendships and close ties with people has also been thwarted by my condition. The physical impairment on my distorted face has always kept my friends at bay (Iaccarino et al., 2014). People who visited me in the hospital have gradually become uncomfortable; thus, they only strive to spend the minimum amount of time possible with me. The condition also worsened my communications skills with both family members and friends. This situation has compelled them to stay away from me because I cannot pronounce words clearly besides the fact that I lose attention unknowingly. As a result, they feel disturbed as I make them strain while talking to me (Andelic et al., 2010).
My fellow employees, teamwork members, and the overall staff in the company where I used to work no longer visit me. I lost their contact after losing my job (Andelic et al., 2010). Only a few managed to visit me in the last four years but I have not seen anyone of them recently. Going back to the company to claim my position has become a daunting task due to the reduced social opportunities and activities. Currently, I am unable to drive, travel, or even walk properly for long distances; hence, I opt staying at home in most cases. This situation has been a hindrance to meeting new friends or helping with communal activities where I can engage with people (Iaccarino et al., 2014). I have visited several companies seeking employment but the mental dysfunction and improper judgment hinders me from getting the desired chances. Briefly, it is hectic to stay away from people who I had closer ties (Andelic et al., 2010).
Some people, especially the caretakers, my husband, and children, always lament of my emotional conditions such as anger, depression, and withdrawal. In most cases, they treat me with caution due to changed temperament, commanding attitude, complaining, selfishness, and denial of my condition (Andelic et al., 2010). At some point, my husband told me that I needed to change my behaviours, especially the denial of my condition since it plays a critical role in the overall healing progress (Andelic et al., 2010).
Lastly, I rarely attend social gatherings especially the recreational opportunities as compared to the time before the accident (Hinsch & Zick, 2010). The pre-injury roles that maintained close social connections with friends have been barred. Since I lost my job, I cannot afford further education due to unemployment, which has also been worsened by financial hardships among others factors (Andelic et al., 2010).
Environmental Factors in the Lives of People Experiencing Disability
Most of the environmental factors that I have exhibited are beyond personal control. Various modifications and maintenance involving clearing of the garden and cleaning activities to make the residential place safe have become paramount to the promotion of the recovery process. Another challenge is the social support provided by the community (Inness et al., 2015). The state of disability has been detrimental since I hardly get contact with people due to poor communication and mobility. Travelling to other places has become a challenging task since I need a caregiver to guide me.
Other challenges that I have been experiencing include complexities of the injury I sustained. Various services that I am being offered are not always timely. Besides, they are inadequate. Furthermore, various constraints in the community have led to the potential loss of advocacy and legal benefits (Hinsch & Zick, 2010). Initially, it was very difficult to find rehabilitation services. However, I receive special services from the local rehabilitation service providers (Inness et al., 2015).
The changed relationship with my family was another major challenge that cropped up after returning from the hospital. Since the normal day-to-day life changed, the intimacy between my husband and me reduced significantly due to changes in relationship roles and communication challenges (Hinsch & Zick, 2010). I understand that other family members have taken over my responsibilities as a mother. However, I can only thank them for helping me regain my health (Inness et al., 2015).
In addition, I have been facing functional deficits that include physical, cognitive, and psychological limits. Due to lack of independence, it is difficult to reintegrate into the community activities that I loved. To conform to the social roles, I sometimes join the working groups at the community-based programs. This undertaking has taught me how to interact with different people as I improve my communication skills (Inness et al., 2015).
Adjusting to the community and environmental challenges has forced me to attend retraining skills in driving and household chores among others. For social support programmes, I have been controlling my emotional behaviours to ensure that I communicate well with close friends, family members, and caregivers (Inness et al., 2015; Hinsch & Zick, 2010). This undertaking has enabled me improve my relationships with people.
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I have been facing greater challenges in matters concerning domestic and personal care. In such cases, I have been requesting my husband to offer me some light duties such as personal cleaning the compound and utensils while he performs the hectic ones. Currently, I can eat food without any assistance. I can successfully prepare light meals but under supervision since accidents may occur. This responsibility has been very essential in meeting my nutritional requirements (Inness et al., 2015).
I have been experiencing other challenges during the social training programs that help me acquire various skills such as assertiveness and problem solving. In most cases, the trainers find it difficult to cope with my situation due to the irrational attitude that I pose to them. Furthermore, I feel frustrated due to the difficulties I experience in expressing myself together with maladaptive responses. In such cases, I always tend to stay calm in addition to controlling my emotions to ensure that the process is successful (Hinsch & Zick, 2010).
For anger management during the training process, I have to remain aware of the emotions that I usually develop. As a result, I like staying in relaxed environments where I can meditate. Sometimes I strive to organize the plans for the day consistently by recalling previously learned information. Such efforts have been motivating my caregiver who gives me rewards. Regardless of the problematic medical condition, I tend to relax if my brain is congested with more information that is irrelevant (Hinsch & Zick, 2010). Lastly, although I have been through various phases of adaptation processes, I focus on positive outcome by remaining happy and enthusiastic as I looking forward to future recovery and social engagement (Inness et al., 2015).
The interaction of personal and environmental factors in the lives of people experiencing disabilities has influential effects on their behaviours. For instance, the fact that I have been having speaking problems is a clear personal factor that has significantly changed my attitude towards other people including family members. However, an external factor is also seen where other people fail to understand me thereby making the healing process worse. Dealing with people who have disabilities requires a full understanding of the likely effects on their impending behaviours. Therefore, the caregivers should first understand the predicaments of disabled people prior to helping them regain health.
Andelic, N., Sigurdardottir, S., Schanke, A., Sandvik, L., Sveen, U., & Roe, C. (2010). Disability, physical health and mental health 1 year after traumatic brain injury. Disability and Rehabilitation, 32(13), 1122-1131.
Chang, E., & Johnson, A. (2013). Chronic Illness and Disability: Principles for Nursing Practice. New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Hinsch, K., & Zick, C. (2010). International Classification of Function, Disability and Health (ICF). Basis for cutaneous rehabilitation management. Der Hautarzt; Zeitschrift fur Dermatologie, Venerologie, und verwandte Gebiete, 61(4), 294-301.
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