One in 5 adolescents in Ontario report having an acquired brain injury (ABI)(Ilie et al, 2013), which can lead to persisting cognitive, emotional, and behavioral challenges. The negative impact of ABI on families is well documented, yet there are few supports for families who are the adolescent’s primary support. There are also few practice guidelines on how to support families. Providing clinicians with skills/tools to support families is essential as research shows a reciprocal relationship between family coping and outcomes for adolescents with ABI.
There are few empirically-based family intervention programs that target the entire family system after an acquired brain injury. The Brain Injury Family Intervention for Adolescents, adapted from the adult Brain Injury Family Intervention developed by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University, is the only known face-to-face manualized intervention that specifically targets adolescents with brain injury and the family system. The project is unique in that it bridges the research to practice gap to foster research-informed practice. This project is creative as it involves a collaborative research effort between Canada and the United States and integrates professional education and knowledge translation to enhance clinical care for adolescents with brain injury and their families. In keeping with its client/family-centred philosophy, the development and testing of Brain Injury Family Intervention for Adolescents was also informed by adolescent consumers and their family members.
The Brain Injury Family Intervention for Adolescents (BIFI-A) project is intended to address gaps around family support needs, lack of practice guidelines, and limited resources in 3 ways:
1. BIFI-A is an empirically-based family intervention developed by Gan et al (2010) to facilitate healthy adjustment for adolescents with ABI and their family. BIFI-A covers a broad curriculum of education about ABI, emotional support, and skill building.
2. BIFI-A intervention has a detailed step-by-step protocol, treatment procedures, and practice guidelines to facilitate effective clinical implementation. The manual comes with activities, ready-to-use handouts, and resources for clinicians to use and replicate.
3. A 2-day Brain Injury Family Intervention training program was developed to help professionals learn skills in family assessment, engagement, intervention, and effective implementation of BIFI-A.
These workshops provide a forum for sharing knowledge locally, nationally and internationally to enhance capacity in the ABI system. The BIFI-A project exemplifies the integration of research, education and knowledge translation to enhance clinical care for adolescents with ABI and their families.
Family Therapist, Brain Injury Rehabilitation Team