Social media and other computer-mediated communication (CMC) platforms have radically changed the way we work, live, and build and maintain our social lives. Today, there are more than three billion social media users worldwide, representing 42% of the world?s population. For individuals with disabilities, CMC has the potential to overcome existing barriers to social participation, particularly for individuals with motor or sensory limitations. However, current CMC social-media platforms are not designed with individuals with cognitive limitations in mind; thus, they do not address barriers to social participation for individuals with cognitive disabilities, including individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) who have impairments in memory, social perception, and social communication. Adults with moderate-severe TBI report being socially isolated, and while they do use social media for social interactions and to share experiences, they do so less frequently than their uninjured peers and report significant challenges with accessibility and usability. CMC has been linked to increased feelings of well-being and social connectedness and decreased loneliness, which in turn are linked with positive physical and psychological health. Reducing barriers to CMC platforms for survivors of TBI may improve social communication, participation, and overall health outcomes. The overarching aim of this project is to create evidence- and technology-based aids for CMC, specifically for social media use, and evaluate users? perceptions of these aids. These data will be used to develop a subsequent clinical trial proposal that will test the effects of CMC technology aids on social participation in adults with TBI. In preparation for the clinical trial to test the effects of technology-aid use on social participation and health outcomes, we must first develop and test the technology, which we do here across three proposed aims:
Aim 1 : Develop software technology to support social media use by adults with TBI;
Aim 2. Determine user perceptions and usage patterns of technology aids and patient characteristics to test in a future clinical trial;
Aim 3. Develop a clinical- trial proposal. Through the development, testing, and deployment of technology aids to support social-media use and the development of a clinical-trial proposal, this project lays the critical foundation for reducing barriers to social participation for individuals with TBI and improving social functioning and wellbeing. Our research team possesses the rare combination of expertise in human machine interactions, technology development, social communication impairment in TBI, patient-centered outcomes, and the relation between CMC and well- being required to conduct the proposed work

Public Health Relevance

Adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI) have fewer regular social contacts than their uninjured peers, less social participation, and more isolation, all of which have negative effects on health and quality of life. Social media and other computer-mediated communication (CMC) platforms have the potential to improve social participation outcomes for adults with TBI, but significant barriers in accessibility and usability exist. The proposed research aims to understand these barriers and to investigate evidence- and technology-based strategies to facilitate CMC and social media use and to improve social functioning.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Behavioral Medicine, Interventions and Outcomes Study Section (BMIO)
Program Officer
Quatrano, Louis A
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
United States
Zip Code
Flynn, Margaret A; Mutlu, Bilge; Duff, Melissa C et al. (2018) Friendship Quality, Friendship Quantity, and Social Participation in Adults with Traumatic Brain Injury. Semin Speech Lang 39:416-426
Rigon, Arianna; Voss, Michelle W; Turkstra, Lyn S et al. (2018) White matter correlates of different aspects of facial affect recognition impairment following traumatic brain injury. Soc Neurosci :1-15
Rigon, Arianna; Turkstra, Lyn S; Mutlu, Bilge et al. (2018) Facial-affect recognition deficit as a predictor of different aspects of social-communication impairment in traumatic brain injury. Neuropsychology 32:476-483
Wszalek, Joseph A; Turkstra, Lyn S (2018) Comprehension of Legal Language by Adults With and Without Traumatic Brain Injury. J Head Trauma Rehabil :
Rigon, Arianna; Voss, Michelle W; Turkstra, Lyn S et al. (2018) Different aspects of facial affect recognition impairment following traumatic brain injury: The role of perceptual and interpretative abilities. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 40:805-819
Rigon, Arianna; Voss, Michelle W; Turkstra, Lyn S et al. (2018) Functional neural correlates of facial affect recognition impairment following TBI. Brain Imaging Behav :
Dresang, Haley C; Turkstra, Lyn S (2018) Implicit causality bias in adults with traumatic brain injury. J Commun Disord 71:1-10
Turkstra, L S; Norman, R S; Mutlu, B et al. (2018) Impaired theory of mind in adults with traumatic brain injury: A replication and extension of findings. Neuropsychologia 111:117-122
Turkstra, Lyn Siobhan; Duff, Melissa Collins; Politis, Adam Michael et al. (2017) Detection of text-based social cues in adults with traumatic brain injury. Neuropsychol Rehabil :1-15
Rigon, A; Voss, M W; Turkstra, L S et al. (2017) Relationship between individual differences in functional connectivity and facial-emotion recognition abilities in adults with traumatic brain injury. Neuroimage Clin 13:370-377

Showing the most recent 10 out of 15 publications