Original Research

Identity construction following Traumatic Brain Injury: A case study

Ayesha Sabat, Legini Moodley, Harsha Kathard
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 53, No 1 | a196 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v53i1.196 | © 2019 Ayesha Sabat, Legini Moodley, Harsha Kathard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 October 2016 | Published: 31 December 2006

About the author(s)

Ayesha Sabat, Department of Speech Therapy and Audiology, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Legini Moodley, Department of Speech Therapy and Audiology, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Harsha Kathard, Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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This construction of self-identity pre- and post-Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in a single case study is described. A life history research methodology was employed to explore the experience of a survivor of TBI, using a single case study design. The participant was a 31 year old White South African male who sustained TBI while on duty in the army. Multiple interviews were conducted with the participant to allow in-depth exploration of his self-identity formation pre- and post-TBI. Data analysis entailed transcribing the interviews, crafting a research story (narrative analysis) and an analysis of the narrative. The results illuminated the emergence and development of a resistance identity as a product of early pre-TBI experience, the loss of self following TBI as well as the emergence of a positive self-identity. The embedded issues of communication and self-identity are explained. The participant’s narrative espoused a hopeful optimism, strongly challenging the dominant disability discourse. The specific strengths and limitations, and potential value of using life histories as both a methodological and clinical tool when working with TBI survivors is described. Implications for research and clinical practice in the field of Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) is also provided.


Traumatic Brain Injury; narrative life history methodology; self-identity; life experience; resistance identity; loss of self; communication impairment


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