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Internet and Social Media Use After Traumatic Brain Injury: A Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Study

Baker-Sparr Christina MS; Hart, Tessa PhD; Bergquist, Thomas PhD, ABPP; Bogner, Jennifer PhD; Dreer, Laura PhD; Juengst, Shannon PhD; Mellick, David MA; O'Neil-Pirozzi, Therese M. ScD; Sander, Angelle M. PhD; Whiteneck, Gale G. PhD
The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: Post Author Corrections: April 18, 2017
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000305
Original Article: PDF Only


To characterize Internet and social media use among adults with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to compare demographic and socioeconomic factors associated with Internet use between those with and without TBI.


Ten Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems centers.


Persons with moderate to severe TBI (N = 337) enrolled in the TBI Model Systems National Database and eligible for follow-up from April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2015.


Prospective cross-sectional observational cohort study.

Main Measures:

Internet usage survey.


The proportion of Internet users with TBI was high (74%) but significantly lower than those in the general population (84%). Smartphones were the most prevalent means of Internet access for persons with TBI. The majority of Internet users with TBI had a profile account on a social networking site (79%), with more than half of the sample reporting multiplatform use of 2 or more social networking sites.


Despite the prevalence of Internet use among persons with TBI, technological disparities remain in comparison with the general population. The extent of social media use among persons with TBI demonstrates the potential of these platforms for social engagement and other purposes. However, further research examining the quality of online activities and identifying potential risk factors of problematic use is recommended.

Corresponding Author: Christina Baker-Sparr, MS, Craig Hospital, 3425 S. Clarkson St, Englewood, CO 80113 (

This work was supported by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) grants 90DP0028, 90DP0030, 90DP0034, 90DP0037, 90DP0040, 90DP0041, H133A120085, and H133A120096. Public data set provided by the Pew Research Center. Pew Research bears no responsibility for interpretations presented or conclusions reached on the basis of analysis of the data. The authors express appreciation to the data collection personnel who interviewed participants at each collaborating site.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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