To investigate the relationship between social internet use and societal participation after traumatic brain injury (TBI), 331 adults from 10 centers enrolled in the TBI Model System National Database were interviewed. The details of their social internet use were collected along with their scores on the Participation Assessed with Combined Tools – Objective (PART-O). Social internet users had significantly higher PART-O scores on the Social dimension and the Out and About dimension, but not on the Productivity dimension. Insights from this presentation may help clinicians consider patients' use of social internet sites post-TBI based on rehabilitation goals.
Objective: To assess the relationship between social internet use and a measure of social participation in the community among adults with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Design: Prospective cross-sectional observational cohort study.
Setting: Ten Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Centers.
Participants: Persons with moderate to severe TBI enrolled in the TBI Model Systems National Database and eligible for follow-up from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015 (N = 331).
Main Measures: The three subscales of the Participation Assessment with Recombined Tools – Objective (PART-O).
Results: Participants were classified as social internet users or non-users based on self-reported social internet use. All analyses controlled for relevant demographic and injury characteristics. Social internet users had significantly higher PART-O Social Relations subscale scores as compared to non-users. A similar association was found between social internet use and PART-O Out and About subscale scores, however participants’ depression scores had an additional moderating effect. That is, social internet users had higher PART-O Out and About subscale scores than non-users overall, but the differences were larger for those with higher depression scores. There was not a significant difference found in PART-O Productivity subscale scores between social internet users and non-users.
Conclusions: There exist multiple participation restrictions and barriers for persons with TBI. While we considered the possibility that people with TBI who were unable to socialize in person might compensate via social internet use, this did not appear to be the case, as high PART-O Social Relations subscale scores were positively associated with high social use of the internet.