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

Natasha Lannin, Belinda Carr, Jeanine Allaous, Bronwyn Mackenzie, Alex Falcon, Robyn Tate

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40 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-481
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Rehabilitation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • computers
  • executive function
  • handheld
  • Memory
  • rehabilitation

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