Pain and Symptoms after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Should Technology Play a Role in Self-Management?

Pain Manag Nurs. 2021 Feb;22(1):74-79. doi: 10.1016/j.pmn.2020.09.006. Epub 2020 Nov 13.


Background: Those with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) often experience pain and symptoms long after their initial injury. A gap in current knowledge is how persons would prefer to monitor and manage these symptoms following mTBI.

Aims: The purpose of this study was to explore self-management strategies to inform design of an informatics tool to support self-management of pain and symptoms following mTBI.

Design: A qualitative descriptive approach using semi-structured interviews of participants was used.

Settings: Participants were interviewed by phone.

Participants: Seven female participants with recent mTBI completed interviews.

Methods: A descriptive approach was utilized to determine what the tool should address, and which features should be included in a future tool. Themes were identified using a Qualitative Description analysis approach, which is based in naturalistic inquiry.

Results: Participants described difficulty coping with symptoms, limited access to or knowledge of treatments and trial and error with compensatory strategies. These challenges often led to difficulty keeping up with work, school and other commitments. All participants indicated that they were interested in a tool that addresses pain, memory and concentration. The main features that participants wanted were pain and symptom tracking as well as suggestions based on tracking information.

Conclusions: Patients are interested in using technology to help with self-management of their pain and symptoms following mTBI. Tools that help patients with self-management should integrate into health systems and provide ways to effectively interact with providers during the most vulnerable phases of recovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Concussion*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pain
  • Self-Management*
  • Technology