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Portable Electronic Devices as Memory and Organizational Aids After Traumatic Brain Injury: A Consumer Survey Study

Hart, Tessa PhD; Buchhofer, Regina BS; Vaccaro, Monica MS

The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: September-October 2004 - Volume 19 - Issue 5 - p 351-365

Objective To ascertain consumer experiences and attitudes regarding the use of portable electronic devices as memory and organizational aids after traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Design Survey study.

Setting Post-acute TBI rehabilitation programs, research registries.

Participants Eighty persons with moderate to severe TBI interviewed a median of 3.7 years postinjury.

Outcome Measure Survey administered in structured interview format, analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Results Two thirds of participants reported regular use of computers, but fewer than one third had experience with handheld computers or similar devices. Interest in using portable devices for everyday memory and organizational tasks was higher than the expressed need for improvement in participants' current strategies. Respondents expressed reliable preferences for key device features, including simplicity of use, technical support, and long-lasting battery power. Preferred functions included keeping track of money spent, remembering things to do, and remembering what other people say.

Conclusion Portable electronic devices are acceptable or desirable by consumers with moderate to severe TBI for use as compensatory aids.

Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (Dr Hart, Mss Vaccaro and Buchhofer), and the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University (Dr Hart), Philadelphia, Pa.

Corresponding author: Tessa Hart, PhD, Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, 1200 W Tabor Rd, Korman Suite 213, Philadelphia, PA 19141 (e-mail:

This work was funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research grant H133A0101607A awarded to the Brain Injury Association of America and H133A70033 to Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute. The authors acknowledge the contributions of the partners in the Assistive Technology Collaborative on Cognitive Disabilities (Brain Injury Association of America, University of Akron, Temple Institute on Disabilities, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital). The authors thank Kimberly Willis, Cynthia Boyer, and Dan Keating at Bancroft NeuroHealth, Haddonfield, NJ, for assistance in recruiting participants; Gemma Baldon for database development and management; and Jacqueline MacLennan for help with manuscript preparation. John Whyte provided critical review of the manuscript and consultation during project development.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.