Finding the New Normal: Accepting Changes After Combat-Related Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Kyong S. Hyatt, Linda L. Davis, Julie Barroso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: More than 300,000 soldiers have returned from Southwest Asia (i.e., Iraq and Afghanistan) with combat-related mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs). Despite less visible physical injuries, these soldiers demonstrate various physical and cognitive symptoms that impact their ability to reintegrate post-mTBI. This study explores family reintegration experiences, as described by married dyads, following a combat-related mTBI. Methods: Nine soldiers with mTBI and their spouses participated, and a total of 27 interviews, both joint and individual, were conducted. Strauss and Corbin's grounded theory methodology and semistructured interviews were used to collect participants' perceptions and analyze the data. Findings: The overarching theme of the reintegration experience is described as finding the "new normal." A new normal was defined by participants as the couple's new, post-mTBI expectation of the family unit or family routine. Some participants indicated that they had accepted the post-mTBI changes and were working toward this new normal, whereas others indicated these changes were unacceptable and continued their efforts to return to pre-injury functioning. Conclusions: Individuals with mTBI and their families may benefit from interventions that directly address mismatched expectations and promote the acceptance of a new normal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-309
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Combat-related mild traumatic brain injury
  • Family reintegration
  • New normal
  • Post-brain injury adjustment
  • Soldiers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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