Research Reports - The effectiveness of handheld computers for improving memory functioning in patients with acquired brain injury

Clin Rehabil. 2014 May;28(5):470-81

Lannin N(1), Carr B, Allaous J, Mackenzie B, Falcon A, Tate R

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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