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Smartphones as assistive technology following traumatic brain injury

Tue 18 Apr 2017

This study aimed to investigate patterns of smartphone use amongst individuals with TBI, identify potential barriers to use, and examine the relationships between smartphone use and daily functioning.

Dana Wong, Kelly Sinclair, Elizabeth Seabrook, Adam McKay & Jennie Ponsford

Journal of Disability and Rehabilitation. 

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Abstract

Purpose: Smartphones have great potential as a convenient, multifunction tool to support cognition and independence following traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, there has been limited investigation of their helpful and less helpful aspects for people with TBI. We aimed to investigate patterns of smartphone use amongst individuals with TBI, identify potential barriers to use, and examine the relationships between smartphone use and daily functioning.

Method: Twenty-nine participants with TBI and 33 non-injured participants completed the Smartphone Survey, and measures of subjective and objective cognitive functioning, mood, and community integration.

Results: Smartphone use was equally common in both groups, and patterns of app use were similar. More participants with TBI than the comparison group listed using their smartphone as a memory aid as its main benefit. Difficulty in learning how to use the smartphone was identified by participants with TBI, however only 10% had been shown how to use it by a clinician. Those with poorer subjective cognitive function used memory/organisational apps more frequently; and higher communication app use with better social integration, in participants with TBI.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that smartphones have potential in improving independence following TBI, but receiving support in using them is vital.

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