The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Community Integration of Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury at TIRR

R1: Increasing Social Networking Opportunities following TBI

Principal Investigator: Margaret A. Struchen, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator: Sunil Kothari, M.D.


two women having lunch

Loneliness is one of the major problems that people may experience after traumatic brain injury. Studies have shown that loss of pre-injury friendships and having fewer people in one's social circle are common problems for people with moderate to severe brain injury. Often, the family becomes the main source for social activities. Having relationships with others is of key importance to feeling like one is part of a community. Although relationships with others and participation in social activities are known to be very important, few studies have been done to look at ways to improve social integration after injury.

Peer mentoring has been used to help persons with disabilities with adjustment issues and with finding ways to access resources. Using peer mentoring to help with developing social relationships has been used in some groups. One study looked at using social mentoring to increase the number of social contacts for three individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI). The program was found to be useful for this small group. The R1 study attempted to use a social peer mentoring program for a larger number of individuals with TBI.

This project tested the usefulness of a social peer mentoring program to help improve social outcomes and decrease feelings of loneliness for persons with brain injury. Social peer mentors are people with TBI who have had a good social outcome and are interested in helping others with brain injury improve their own social outcomes.

Improving social outcomes involves:

This study compared how people do during and after working with a social peer mentor as compared to those who haven't had the chance to work with a mentor yet.

The two groups were compared on several things, including:

Significant Developments: