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Technology in the Lives of Women who Live with Memory Impairment as a Result of Traumatic Brain Injury

Keywords: Traumatic brain injury, electronic memory aid, women and technology.

Overview of Research

Although less than half of the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) population is female, there is a lack of literature focusing on the treatment preferences of women with memory impairment as a result of TBI. The objectives of this study were to (i) conduct a literature review of Electronic Memory Aid (EMA) use with a TBI population (ii) investigate the female sub-population’s perceptions and views of EMAs (iii) discover what EMAs this sub-population currently uses and explore their suggestions to increase the utility of this technology. Two focus groups were conducted; each with 5 females who self-reported injury was of moderate to severe severity of TBI. The results reaffirm current literature supporting the use of EMAs with this population. Individuals not currently utilizing this technology were motivated to employ EMAs in their daily lives. Further research must be conducted to develop strategies to enable this population’s use of EMAs.

Literature Review

Literature reports that the use of EMAs with the TBI population enables clients to live independently as EMAs improve a person’s daily functional task completion, role performance, increase the likelihood of return to employment, decrease anxiety, reduce stress, improve confidence, increase self-esteem, and increase one’s level of life-satisfaction (see literature references below). In summary, EMAs improve an individual’s psychological outlook to life, their independence and their quality of life.

Current research reflects the diversity and adaptiveness of EMA technology, however little research investigates a possible gender difference in the views and use of this technology. The literature review and exploratory study for this project addresses this gap by examining the specific needs of EMA technology for women living with memory deficits as a result of a TBI.

Implications for Occupational Therapy

The prominent role of Occupational Therapy (OT) with the TBI population, specifically cognitive rehabilitation, is well known in rehabilitation medicine. As such, it is necessary for Occupational Therapists to continue to learn, conduct research, and implement the results of their research into their clinical practice. Although this research highlights an overlooked area of clinical practice in Occupational Therapy, further research must be conducted to explore the use of EMAs for the TBI population (and sub-populations) as well as implement the results of this research into clinical practice enable the fullest potential of their clients.

Selected Literature Related to this Project

Bergman, M. (2002). The benefits of a cognitive orthotic in brain injury rehabilitation. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 17, 431-445.

Burke, D., Leeb, S., Hinman, R., Lupton, E., Burke, J., Schneider, J., Ahangar, B., Simpson, K., and Mayer, E. (2001). Using talking lights to assist brain-injured patients with daily inpatient therapeutic schedule. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 16, 284-291.

Hart, T., Hawkey, K., and Whyte, J. (2002). Use of a portable voice organizer to remember therapy goals in traumatic brain injury rehabilitation: A within-subjects trial. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 17, 556-570.

Kim, H., Burke, D., Dowds, M., and George, J. (1999). Case Study: Utility of a microcomputer as an external memory aid for a memory-impaired head injury patient during in-patient rehabilitation. Brain Injury, 13, 147-150.

Kim, H., Burke, D., Dowds, M., Boone, K., and Park, G. (2000). Electronic memory aids for outpatient brain injury: Follow-up findings. Brain Injury, 14, 187-196.

Wilson, B., Evans, J., Emslie, H., and Malinek, V. (1997). Evaluation of NeuroPage: A new memory aid. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 63, 113-115.

Funding Source

Health care, technology and place - CIHR strategic research and training at University of Toronto.

Research Team

Abigail Dry, M.Sc.OT candidate (University of Toronto)

Alex Mihailidis, Ph.D. P.Eng. (University of Toronto)

Angela Colantonio, Ph. D. (University of Toronto)
Jill Cameron, Ph. D. (Toronto Rehabilitation Institute)