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Improving Social Participation of Teens with Traumatic Brain Injury

IMTC is working with collaborators to design and build a mobile app­based intervention program to support social participation and reduce social isolation in adolescents who have experienced a brain injury.


Collaboration between IMTC, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Tufts University, the University of Wisconsin­Madison, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is working to address the critical issue of diminished social participation of teens with traumatic brain injury and the resulting impact this has on quality of life. This work is funded by a field­initiated research grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) for grant number H133G130272.

IMTC and its collaborators are developing an app as part of a program to promote social participation in teenagers with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Adolescents with TBI often have lower participation in social activities. The app helps teens create social participation goals and break higher­level goals down into actionable steps.

Each teen is paired with a trained peer coach, who virtually meets with the teen via the app each week to provide support and assist the teen in achieving their goals.The program also integrates online skill building modules.

This three­year program of research is entering the final year. IMTC proved instrumental in facilitating an iterative and user­centered design process to design and build the mobile app. The design process began with interviews of parents and teens with TBI and candidate peer coaches. Low fidelity interface design sketches were developed based on this user input. Multiple rounds of usability testing led to an interactive mock prototype on mobile devices, and included usability testing with teens with TBI. A final functional app has been completed and will be used in support of a study looking into the effectiveness of this intervention. IMTC is providing continued support of the app throughout the duration of the study.