Views and Experiences of People with TBI in Using Social Media

‘I kind of figured it out’: the views and experiences of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) in using social media — self‐determination for participation and inclusion online.

Aims: This qualitative interview study examined the views and experiences of 13 people with TBI and cognitive-communication disability to identify:

  1. The nature of their social media experience;
  2. Barriers and facilitators to successful use; and
  3. Strategies that enabled their use of social media.

Results: Participants used a range of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. They also reported using other sites including blogs, messaging apps, dating apps, video call platforms (e.g., Skype), email, virtual gaming worlds and content-sharing sites such as YouTube and Spotify. All but one of the participants used social media more than once per day. Participants recalled that they had started using social media due to the popularity of its use and fear of missing out. Almost half of participants had assistance in creating social media accounts, though most had been encouraged to complete this process themselves.

Participants started to use social media to maintain relationships and some used it to assist others with TBI. Participants reported finding enjoyment in establishing social connections and in the relationships and activities they could engage in online. However, they felt that being cautious online was important. Language demands, the overwhelming volume of information available online, and confusion when switching between social media platforms also posed challenges. Through continued use of social media, some participants built social media mastery. However, participants learnt social media use through trial and error, resulting in most having small online networks with sporadic interactions with other people.

Implications: Adults with TBI use multiple social media platforms to establish and maintain relationships. However, they also experience challenges when using social media, and lack direct support. While social media provides a means for people with TBI to practice their communication skills, personalised training and support may be necessary through rehabilitation to develop confidence and mastery in social media use.


Our onward queries: A deeper understanding of the actual use of specific social media platforms by adults with TBI may assist in the development of supports for this population. So how do adults with TBI use Twitter to communicate and establish connections with others?
Considering the challenges encountered by adults with TBI in this study, in what ways might rehabilitation professionals offer support to adults with TBI using social media?

Full reference of article:
Brunner, M., Palmer, S., Togher, L., & Hemsley, B. (2018). ‘I kind of figured it out’: the views and experiences of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) in using social media—self‐determination for participation and inclusion online. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, (Early Online). doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12405

Link to article on publisher page:

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