#TwitterMind ‐ Social Media Use by People with Communication Difficulties after Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

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Cognitive-communication disability following traumatic brain injury (TBI) is often wide-ranging in scope and associated with social isolation and significant loss of friendships. Social media is known to support people with communication disability to access information and social participation. With over 60% of Australians accessing mainstream social media daily, these platforms may offer an important way for people with a TBI to connect with their family and friends. Furthermore, social media might reduce some of the difficulty people with TBI encounter in the immediacy of face-to-face conversations. However, little is yet known about how people with TBI use social media or how it is used during rehabilitation. This doctoral research aimed to investigate the views and experiences of people with TBI and rehabilitation professionals on the role of social media use in cognitive-communication rehabilitation. A multilevel mixed methods research design was used to gain an understanding of this issue. This involved multiple studies and meta-synthesis of data collected from several sources: (a) literature on use of social media and technology for communication and participation after TBI, (b) Twitter data and network analysis, (c) interviews with people with TBI, and (d) focus groups with TBI rehabilitation professionals. Data was drawn from 111 peer-reviewed articles, 36,073 tweets, interviews with 13 people with TBI, and focus groups with 11 rehabilitation professionals. The data was collected, analysed, and synthesised both qualitatively and quantitatively. Analysis of the results revealed that people with TBI use social media for connection, and need support for meaningful use to develop a sense of social media mastery. Although rehabilitation professionals want to assist people with TBI to use social media during rehabilitation, their concern and uncertainty regarding the potential risks meant social media use is not yet proactively included in TBI rehabilitation. It was identified that TBI rehabilitation should target social media use and include explicit instruction for communication and participation, as well as risk management education and gathering a broader network of personnel to support people with TBI to work collaboratively on social media use. Results informed development of a proposed social media rehabilitation protocol, providing a framework for developing policy and guidance on using social media during TBI rehabilitation for the development of social communication and participation skills for people with TBI. The outcomes of this research provide valuable insights and timely guidance on the resources needed for clinicians seeking to support the integration of social media goals into TBI rehabilitation programs.
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