Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries – Related Communication Disorders on the Quality Of Life among the Kenya Defence Force Ex-War Soldiers
Munyoki, Peter Charles
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The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) related communication disorders on the quality of life among the Kenya Defence Force ex-war soldiers. It was motivated by the increasing cases of TBIs over the last few years due to Kenyan military intervention in Somalia in pursuit of the Al-Shabaab terrorists. The objectives of this study were (i) to identify and describe the communication disorders prevalent among KDF ex-war soldiers with TBI, (ii) determine their effects on their social, emotional and (iii) functional well-being. (iv) It also endeavored to establish the available speech and language pathology (SLP) services in Kenya and their usefulness in the improvement and maintenance of the soldiers‟ quality of life. This study was based on Health Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) measures drawn from the broad Quality of Life (QoL) theory. Data was collected from the sampled Kenya Defence Force Ex-war Soldiers with TBI-related communication disorders who were either attending or had attended treatment at the military memorial hospital in Nairobi, their caregivers and medical specialists. A case study research design was employed with mixed method of data collection using observations, interviews and questionnaires as the research tools of choice. The collected data was then analyzed using a descriptive analysis method presenting quantitative data in form of frequency counts, percentages and tables and thematically analyzing qualitative data. The study found out that a majority of ex-war soldiers with TBI suffered from heterogeneous communication disorders ranging from expressive, receptive to receptive-expressive speech/ language disorders. These were characterized with hesitations, articulation challenges, selective memory, slurred speech, and phonological errors. The research revealed that social life of the majority of ex-war soldiers was severely affected due to social communication break down between them and their loved ones. The study also found out that TBI conditions led to early retirements of most of young ex-war soldiers rendering them unable to engage in income generating activities affecting their functional well-being. The study also revealed gaps in the treatment procedures which included lack of multidisciplinary teams‟ interventions, relevant knowledge, support and informed corrective measures to habilitate ex-war soldiers and empower the caregivers. The study concluded that TBI resulted to a broad spectrum of communication disorders that affect social participation, emotional and functional well-being of the ex-war soldiers. Thus, a collaborative effort in policy development for provision of professional training to clinicians, caregiver empowerment and strengthening of societal institutions should be embraced. This can be realized through government funding, provision of subsidies and making of specific hierarchical changes to the relevant societal institutions dealing with ex-war soldiers with communication disorders. The study recommends for further research to be conducted focusing on the ex-war soldiers unwillingness to be involved in speech and language treatment and habilitation programmes.