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

R6: Understanding Factors that Contribute to Decreased Social Integration for Persons with TBI

Principal Investigator: Margaret A. Struchen, Ph.D.


There is a lot of evidence that people experience changes in their social lives after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). People may have changes in their relationships with friends and family. For persons that have had a TBI, there are many possible things that might affect social relationships and activities. One thing is that many people can experience changes in the way they communicate with others after a TBI. These changes in social communication can affect the way that people see persons with TBI. Changes can be small (like having problems with finding words that you want to say) or large (like saying things that are rude). Other changes that can happen after a TBI include: being overtalkative, having trouble starting conversations, or speaking off-topic. Such changes in social communication can have a negative effect on the person's relationships with others.

Another thing that can affect social relationships and activities after injury, is the amount of social support and resources that are available to the person with TBI. The number of people that an individual with TBI feels they can count on for help and friendship may affect the quality of their social relationships and activities after injury. Changes in living situation after injury (including living in a different home, living with other people, or having less access to transportation) can also affect the quality of social relationships after injury.

Social relationships and activities are likely to be affected both by changes in the person (such as changes in communication skills) and by changes in the environment (such as changes in living situation, transportation needs, and social supports). This study will examine the relative importance of social communication skills and environmental factors on social relationships and activities following traumatic brain injury. In addition, this study will examine how social communication skills, environmental factors, and social integration affect how people feel emotionally after TBI.

The purpose of this study is to better understand the affect of social communication skills and environmental factors on social functioning for persons who have had a traumatic brain injury. Understanding the links between these factors can lead to improved treatments to improve social functioning after TBI.

Significant Developments: