Understanding the experience of compensatory and restorative memory rehabilitation: A qualitative study of stroke survivors

Toni D. Withiel, Vanessa L. Sharp, Dana Wong, Jennie L. Ponsford, Narelle Warren, Renerus J. Stolwyk

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Memory impairment is common following stroke. Memory skills groups (MSGs) utilising compensatory strategies and computerised cognitive training (CCT) are two rehabilitation approaches available to improve memory function; however, there is no consensus as to which is more effective following stroke. This study aimed to explore and contrast the qualitative experiences of 20 stroke survivors (Mage = 61.90, SD = 10.48, range: 34–77 years) who received six weeks’ training in MSG (manualised memory skills group, n = 10) or individual-CCT (LumosityTM, n = 10). Using semi-structured interviews, data were collected and analysed thematically, adopting a critical realist approach. Six themes were identified: (1) Facilitators and barriers to intervention engagement, (2) Improving knowledge and understanding, (3) Connecting with others, (4) Perception of the intervention, (5) Impact on everyday memory and (6) Impact on emotions and sense of purpose. Encouragingly, most participants valued and enjoyed participating in the memory interventions, irrespective of rehabilitation approach. MSG participants reported learning and sharing with similar others as important to the experience and described everyday memory improvements. CCT participants described enjoyment of its game-like nature, yet reported frustration associated with game-specific characteristics, and did not report everyday memory improvements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-522
Number of pages20
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2020


  • Cognitive training
  • Compensatory strategies
  • Memory rehabilitation
  • Memory skills group
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Stroke rehabilitation

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