Traumatic Brain Injury Toolkit for Emotional Self-Regulation Project

June 17, 2022

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury that affects how the brain works. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates there were more than 220,000 TBI related hospitalizations in 2019.

Difficulties regulating emotions are a frequent consequence of a TBI. Common behavioral and emotional problems experienced by a person with a TBI include depression, anxiety, impulsive behavior, and verbal or physical outbursts. Many individuals with a TBI experience intense mood swings or have trouble managing their emotions. Difficulties regulating emotions can negatively affect many life domains and can lead to job loss, reduced social and recreational activity, and decreased emotional well-being. 

The TBI Toolkit for Emotional Self-Regulation project aims to connect individuals with TBIs to assistive technology that can help them better identify and understand their emotional rhythms and gain awareness of their emotions. In addition, the apps and devices in the toolkit teach calming methods and coping techniques to help TBI survivors regulate their emotions. 

This project is part of a grant from the Administration for Community Living. It is a collaboration between the Missouri UCEDD (UMKC Institute for Human Development), Missouri Assistive Technology, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Brain Injury Program, and the Brain Injury Association of Missouri. In addition to increasing knowledge of and access to assistive technology for people living with a TBI, this project aims to build a knowledge base to create similar toolkits in the future.  

“The project is an opportunity for us to discover where the incorporation of assistive technology might be useful in reducing consequences of an individual’s changed abilities. It is also on opportunity to help them build positive skills and habits and increasing independence,” David Baker, Director of Missouri Assistive Technology, said. 

The Toolkit consists of five assistive technology items and apps that collectively focus on reducing anxiety and depression, managing stress, improving mood, and enhancing focus and overall emotional well-being. Each kit contains:

  • An iPad pre-loaded with three apps: PTSD Coach, Breathe2Relax, and UCLA Mindful
  • Joy for All Robotic Dog
  • Light Therapy Lamp

Ten Missourians with a TBI will pilot the Emotional Self-Regulation Toolkits over a five-week period. Feedback from the participants will inform how assistive technology aligns to the needs of TBI survivors on the path to recovery and how toolkits will be developed in the future.