Factors Affecting Participation in Physical Therapy During Posttraumatic Amnesia

Courtney Spiteri, Jennie Ponsford, Gavin Williams, Michelle Kahn, Adam McKay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To examine the effect of agitation, cognitive impairment, fatigue, and pain on physical therapy participation and outcomes during posttraumatic amnesia (PTA) after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Design: Prospective longitudinal study. Setting: Inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Participants: Participants (N=77) with moderate-to-severe TBI who were deemed to be experiencing PTA using the Westmead Post-Traumatic Amnesia Scale. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: The Pittsburgh Rehabilitation Participation Scale and time in therapy (min) were recorded twice daily after routine physical therapy sessions during PTA. The FIM-motor (select items related to physical therapy) score rated on admission and after emergence from PTA was used to calculate FIM-motor change. Results: Agitation was associated with lower participation in therapy. The presence of agitation and pain both predicted lower FIM-motor change at emergence from PTA. Higher levels of cognitive impairment and fatigue were also associated with lower participation and less time in therapy. Conclusions: The presence of agitation, fatigue, pain, and cognitive impairment impede rehabilitation success during PTA. This study strengthens the case for implementing environmental and behavioral recommendations, such as conducting therapy earlier in the day within a familiar space (ie, on the ward) and tailoring session duration to patient needs. This is with the aim of minimizing fatigue, agitation, and pain, while promoting cognitive recovery and arousal during PTA to maximize physical gains. Further research is warranted to examine the factors associated with rehabilitation success across other therapeutic disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-385
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Brain injuries
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Rehabilitation

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