Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Jan Stube


Adaptation, Psychological; Brain Injuries, Traumatic; Vision Disorders


Problem: The Center for Disease Control Prevention (CDC, 2010) reports that 2,611,129 individuals visit the Emergency Room each year due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). In addition, approximately 50% of individuals who have a TBI report visual inefficiencies (Bulson, Jun, and Hayes, 2012; Lew et al., 2009; McKenna, Cooke, Fleming, Jefferson, & Ogden, 2006). Researchers have identified the effects these diagnoses have on ADLs and IADLs. Yet, there is a further need for understanding the experiences of persons post-TBI who have visual inefficiencies, including their coping in everyday life. Aims: This qualitative research study is aimed at determining the challenges that individuals with a dual diagnosis of a TBI and visual inefficiencies are faced with throughout daily life; and, secondly, to identifying common coping strategies used to approach these challenges.

Methodology: Following a review of literature, semi-structured interview questions were designed using the model of Occupational Adaptation (OA) (Schkade and Schultz, 1992). After IRB approval, a list of potential participants was obtained from an area optometrist. A sample of three individuals consented to two approximately one-hour long interviews. Using a phenomenological research design and analysis process, coding was utilized to support theme development and synthesis.

Findings: The qualitative findings show that participants commonly experience challenges in regards to their occupational performance in the areas of driving, education, sports/exercise and social participation. These occupations were made difficult by a variety of symptoms which complicate participation. TBI and visual inefficiencies impact relationships and support systems. The participants also experienced changes in ability to adapt and cope. Overall, there is a lack of awareness about brain injury with visual inefficiencies among research participants.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that people with brain injury and visual inefficiencies do experience daily challenges and could benefit from healthcare services to promote education, preparedness, and coping strategies to enable a smoother return to participation in life activities. We plan to publish these findings and disseminate the information to improve the quality of tertiary healthcare for this population. Healthcare professionals, such as occupational therapists, have the opportunity to make a positive impact on this population’s recovery.