OTCATS: Occupational Therapy Critically Appraised Topics
Introduction Topics Project Summary EBP Links Media Releases

There is insufficient evidence to support that personal digital assistant devices improve task performance in clients with memory impairment following a traumatic brain injury

Prepared by:

Emma Tan & Tran Vu

Date:

May 2012

Review Date:

May 2014

Clinical Question:

Does the incorporation of personal digital assistant devices in rehabilitation improve task performance in clients with memory impairment following traumatic brain injury compared with a standard rehabilitation program?

Clinical Scenario:

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are insults to the brain caused by external physical forces (Radomski, 2008). This insult may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness and resultant impairment of cognitive, behavioural, emotional or physical functioning (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). Of special interest is memory loss, reported by persons with TBI and/ or their family members to be one of the most challenging residual problems resulting from TBI (Depompei et al., 2008). Memory impairment is a primary factor in the failure to return to work, a predictor of unsuccessful rehabilitation and vocational training and has a detrimental impact on quality of life (Dowds et al., 2011). Memory impairments can also interfere with performance of activities of daily living (ADLs) (Sohlberg, & Mateer, 2001).

It has become increasingly accepted that external memory aids are among the most effective rehabilitation tools available to compensate for prospective memory impairment following TBI (Sohlberg, Kennedy, Avery, Coelho, Turkstra & Ylsvisaker, 2007). In recent years, the use of personal digital assistants (PDAs), handheld computer devices, pager systems and mobile/smart phones have proved generally positive and helpful to prompt performance of occupational tasks (Hart, Buchhofer, & Vaccaro, 2004). This CAT includes handheld computer devices, pager systems and mobile/smart phones in the definition of PDA technology. To date, there is very little evidence to support the efficacy of these devices and for this reason it is proposed that investigating the effectiveness of PDA’s to improve task performance in clients with memory impairment following a TBI is of clinical importance.

Clinical Bottom Line:

There is insufficient high level evidence that PDAs improve task performance in clients with memory impairment following TBI.

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