Changes in Internet Use Over Time Among Individuals with Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

Stephanie K. Rigot, Lynn A. Worobey*, Michael L. Boninger, Susan Robinson-Whelen, Mary Jo Roach, Allen W. Heinemann, Gina McKernan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the changes in total internet and mobile internet use over time and determine how demographic characteristics are related to changes in internet and mobile internet use among individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: Cross-sectional analysis of a multicenter cohort study. Setting: National SCI Database. Participants: Individuals with traumatic SCI with follow-up data collected between 2012 and 2018 (N=13,622). Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Proportion of sample reporting internet use at all or through a mobile device over time and specifically in 2018. Results: The proportion of internet users increased from 77.7% in 2012 to 88.1% in 2018. Older participants (P<.001); those with lower annual income (P<.001), less education (P<.001), non-White race or Hispanic ethnicity (P<.001), or motor incomplete tetraplegia (P=.004); and men (P=.035) were less likely to use the internet from 2012-2018. By 2018, there were no longer differences in internet use based on race and ethnicity (P=.290) or sex (P=.066). Mobile internet use increased each year (52.4% to 87.7% of internet users from 2012-2018), with a participant being 13.7 times more likely to use mobile internet in 2018 than 2012. Older age (P<.001), income <$50,000 (P<.001), high school diploma or less (P=.011), or non-Hispanic White race/ethnicity (P=.001) were associated with less mobile internet use over time. By 2018, there were no differences in mobile internet use by education (P=.430), and only participants with incomes >$75,000 per year had greater odds of mobile internet use (P=.016). Conclusions: Disparities associated with internet access are decreasing likely as a result of mobile device use. Increased internet access offers an important opportunity to provide educational and training materials to frequently overlooked groups of individuals with SCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)832-839.e2
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Internet access
  • Internet-based intervention
  • Rehabilitation
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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