Spirituality can help people heal in a number of ways. But does it have any effect on traumatic brain injury?
A recent study by Brigid Waldron-Perrine, PhD at Wayne State University has found that it just might.
More specifically, she found that religion and spirituality may help improve the emotional and physical rehabilitation of patients suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI).
TBI can increase patients’ risk for mental and physical problems, including higher levels of stress, lower life satisfaction, and being overly-dependent on others.
Dr. Waldon-Perrine interviewed 88 individuals, most of whom were African-American Christian males. After running neuropsychological tests to measure cognitive abilities, she asked them about their religious practices and then gathered information about their functional status from a significant other.
What she found was inspiring.
Participants who reported greater connection to a higher power had improved emotional and physical rehabilitation outcomes, including higher life satisfaction, lower distress, and higher functional ability.
This study didn’t use a randomly assigned, controlled procedure, so we cannot infer causality. (It may be that the men in her study had improved functioning for other reasons, but the correlation found between spirituality and healing is still interesting.)
Other researchers have also found a connection between the social support faith communities provide and faster healing.
But what is special about this study is that even after taking social support out of the equation, participants still healed more quickly.
You can find the entire study in the journal Rehabilitation Psychology.
When we help our patients connect to their higher power, whatever that may be, we may also be helping to improve their outcomes.
How has spirituality influenced your patients’ outcomes?