National Institute of Health Research

Improving memory after traumatic brain injury

26 July 2012

A multi-centre trial evaluating a group-based memory rehabilitation programme for military personnel and civilians, who have sustained a traumatic brain injury, has been funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme.

Approximately six per cent of those attending Accident and Emergency departments in the UK every year have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Many of these patients will have a memory problem as a result of the brain injury.

Memory problems are not only persistent, but are also debilitating and have a negative effect on quality of life. It can affect a return to active military services, return to civilian work, social functioning and interpersonal relationships. Cognitive rehabilitation is a structured set of therapeutic activities designed to retrain an individual’s memory and other cognitive functions.

The researchers will assess 400 people with traumatic brain injury from both military and civilian sources and recruit around 300 into the randomised controlled trial. The team will select those who report memory problems in their everyday life and have evidence of memory problems on formal testing.

Lead researcher Dr Roshan das Nair of the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Nottingham commented: “If this study confirms the benefits of the intervention, it could lead to a change in clinical practice, both in the UK and elsewhere.”

Participants will be recruited from centres based in Nottingham, Epsom, Birmingham, and Chester. They will be allocated to receive either a group memory rehabilitation programme (intervention group), or to continue with their usual clinical care (control group). They will have ten weekly group sessions on strategies to improve and to compensate for their memory difficulties. These sessions will involve use of internal memory aids (such as mnemonics), external memory aids (such as diaries and mobile phones), and different ways of learning material.

The main outcome will be the report of memory problems in everyday life. The team will also assess whether the intervention improves adjustment, activities of daily living and quality of life, using standardised questionnaires. The cost effectiveness of providing such an intervention will also be determined to help implement this programme in the NHS, if found beneficial.

View the project details


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