What is stigma like for me and others with a brain injury?
Since Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can affect various aspects of an individual’s physical as well as cognitive abilities, such as balancing and reasoning abilities, the stigma of disability also vary. The experience of stigma for a professional footballer with balancing difficulties due to a TBI can be very different when comparing to a lawyer who lost the ability to reason due to a TBI but remained able to function well physically. Depending on the nature of TBI, the symptoms may be visible and obvious or not at all noticeable. TBI resulting physical, sensory, and communication limitations, such as difficulty with balancing, talking and hearing may be easily recognized while, issues with abstract thinking, attention, problem solving ability and memory are much harder to be detected. Moreover, symptoms combinations such as difficulties with balancing and talking may be misinterpreted as drunken acts, while difficulties with reasoning and attention may be misinterpreted as cognitive retardation and developmental delay. Furthermore, difficulties with behaving may be misinterpreted as a change of personality. These misinterpretations can add a new dimension of stigma on an individual with TBI. In addition, how people from different cultures experience and understand traumatic brain injury and the process of brain injury rehabilitation are not clear.