The effectiveness of handheld computers for improving everyday memory functioning

A randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of handheld computers for improving everyday memory functioning in patients with memory impairments after acquired brain injury

From Clinical Rehabilitation

Prospective memory failure is common among brain injury survivors. Memory impairment not only affects survivors of acquired brain injury but also has significant implications for their primary caregivers, thereby increasing the costs of long-term care. Electronic compensatory aids to support cognitive functioning, and thereby improve prospective memory recall, are gaining in popularity in brain injury rehabilitation because they do not require the patient to ‘remember’ to use them in the same way that paper-based compensatory aids might. The aim of this article was to determine the effectiveness of personal digital assistant devices on achievement of memory and organization goals in patients with poor memory after acquired brain injury. This randomized controlled trial demonstrated that personal digital assistant use in an eight-week programme with occupational therapy training decreased functional memory failures and caregiver report of frequency of forgetting in patients with acquired brain injury more than use of non-electronic memory aids. Results indicate occupational therapy training in the use of a handheld computer improved patients’ daily memory function more than standard rehabilitation.

 

Abstract

Objective: To determine the effectiveness of personal digital assistant devices on achievement of memory and organization goals in patients with poor memory after acquired brain injury.

Design: Assessor blinded randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Specialist brain injury rehabilitation hospital (inpatients and outpatients).

Participants: Adults with acquired brain impairments (85% traumatic brain injury; aged ≥17 years) who were assessed as having functional memory impairment on the Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test (General Memory Index).

Interventions: Training and support to use a personal digital assistant for eight weeks to compensate for memory failures by an occupational therapist. The control intervention was standard rehabilitation, including use of non-electronic memory aids.

Main outcome measures: Goal Attainment Scale which assessed achievement of participants’ daily memory functioning goals and caregiver perception of memory functioning; and General Frequency of Forgetting subscale of the Memory Functioning Questionnaire administered at baseline (pre-randomization) and post intervention (eight weeks later).

Results: Forty-two participants with memory impairment were recruited. Use of a personal digital assistant led to greater achievement of functional memory goals (mean difference 1.6 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0 to 2.2), P = 0.0001) and improvement on the General Frequency of Forgetting subscale (mean difference 12.5 (95% CI 2.0 to 22.9), P = 0.021).

Conclusions: Occupational therapy training in the use of a handheld computer improved patients’ daily memory function more than standard rehabilitation.

 

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Article details
Natasha Lannin, Belinda Carr, Jeanine Allaous, Bronwyn Mackenzie, Alex Falcon, and Robyn Tate
A randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of handheld computers for improving everyday memory functioning in patients with memory impairments after acquired brain injury Clin Rehabil May 2014 28: 470-481, first published on January 22, 2014 doi:10.1177/0269215513512216

 

     
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