Online communities and social networking sites can be valuable to those with cognitive or social difficulties caused by traumatic brain injury. Virtual support systems can increase social participation and reduce isolation. Recent research shows that expressive online journaling appears to enhance quality of life and feelings of well-being for TBI patients.
So, do people with a TBI take advantage of virtual communities? A recent study found that 60% of individuals with TBI used Facebook. Age and gender were not significant factors in use of social networking tools. Several other studies show additional common online activities among people with a TBI including email, gaming, and research.
In addition, half of the TBI patients who were not Facebook users were interested in learning to use the site. Barriers for use were security concerns, cognitive defects including problems remembering passwords and navigating the site, and a preference for meeting with people in person. Costs associated with computers and internet services may also be a burden.
Identifying ways to increase social networking use may improve social outcomes in TBI patients.
Tsaousides, T, Matsuzawa, Y, and Lebowitz, M. Familiarity and prevalence of Facebook use for social networking among individuals with traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury. (November 2011).