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Social media as a NeuroMat dissemination strategy for people with brachial plexus injuries

Matheus during his presentation
The NeuroMat dissemination team has launched a project to contribute actively on social media communities with patients, caregivers and health professionals related to traumatic brachial plexus injuries. This project is developed under the scope of NeuroMat's initiative "Action for Brachial Plexus Injury" - ABRAÇO and is funded by a scientific journalism fellowship by FAPESP. The grantee is Matheus Cornely Sayão; supervisors are Cláudia Domingues Vargas and Fernando J. Paixão, respectively coordinator of ABRAÇO and NeuroMat dissemination coordinator.

The general goal of the project, officially called "Social media as a therapeutic approach for people with brachial plexus injuries", is to connect people to good-quality, up-to-date information on the brachial plexus injuries, most importantly content produced within the ABRAÇO initiative. This initiative was created as a support and welcoming network for patients who suffer a brachial plexus injury, as well to their families.

The NeuroMat scientific team has sustained a line of research on the brachial plexus, particularly related to brain plasticity and rehabilitation, and the ABRAÇO initiative serves as a bridge between high-end scientific results and the broader population. To connect patients, caregivers and health professionals to reliable sources of information remains a empowering strategy, as they are given access to resources to understand the injury and develop more effective strategies of rehabilitation.

A specific challenge the ABRAÇO initiative deals with is the lack of structured community around the brachial plexus injury. This differs for instance from the current situation around Parkinson's disease, in which patients, caregivers and health professionals have developed a national network. NeuroMat has become a support player in this network through the AMPARO initiative. In the case of the brachial plexus injury, a structured community is still to be made, and the ABRAÇO project on social media intends to contribute to the eventual bottom-up onset of a stronger network around this type of injury.

Social media intervention will mostly target Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, sharing resources of the ABRAÇO portal on them and eventually responding to public questions and doubts on the injury and rehabilitation. Direct engagement will be made under the supervision of NeuroMat's scientific team. No intervention within the scope of this project will be made in the sense of diagnosing patients; the focus is solely and exclusively bridging people to relevant information.

Contact with people on social media might also contribute to inform the dissemination team of educational content to be produced. A preliminary study has been made to identify on public groups related to the brachial plexus injury frequent topics of discussion.

ABRAÇO is an initiative of the Research, Innovation, and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat), with FAPESP support, in partnership with the "Núcleo de Pesquisas em Neurociências e Reabilitação" (NPNR) of the Deolindo Couto Institute of Neurology (INDC) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

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