Brain injury happens in an instant, often leading to significant changes not only for the person who sustains the injury but also for their family and friends. Today, more than 500,000 people live with a brain injury in Ontario, and another 40,000 will be sustained this year. Motor vehicle collisions, sports injuries, slips and falls, assaults, stroke, infections, near-drownings, and drug overdoses are just some of the ways Ontarians are experiencing brain injuries.
Individuals with brain injuries appear to be particularly vulnerable to social isolation due to the challenges experienced following a brain injury. Many studies have demonstrated that there is a decline in social connections following a brain injury. Further, there is a strong correlation between social relationships and mental health concerns. These results illustrate the importance of exploring the link between brain injury and social isolation further.
In 2021, the Brain Injury Speaks Network conducted virtual focus groups. The purpose of these groups was to understand the lived experience of social isolation, learn more about why it occurs after brain injury and what people can do to reduce the risk of experiencing social isolation. We are so grateful to the Brain Injury Speaks members who participated in these focus groups and shared their experiences with social isolation.