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Evidence-Based Practice for the Use of Internal Strategies as a Memory Compensation Technique After Brain Injury: A Systematic Review

O'Neil-Pirozzi, Therese M. ScD, CCC-SLP; Kennedy, Mary R.T. PhD; Sohlberg, McKay M. PhD

The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: July/August 2016 - Volume 31 - Issue 4 - p E1–E11
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000181
Original Articles

Objective: To complete a systematic review of internal memory strategy use with people who have brain injury and provide practitioners with information that will impact their clinical work.

Methods: A systematic literature search to identify published intervention studies that evaluated an internal memory strategy or technique to improve memory function of individuals with brain injury. Relevant data from reviewed articles were coded using 4 clinical questions targeting participants, interventions, research methods, and outcomes.

Results: A comprehensive search identified 130 study citations and abstracts. Forty-six met inclusion/exclusion criteria and were systematically reviewed. Visual imagery was most frequently studied, in isolation or in combination with other internal strategies. Despite significant variability in research methods and outcomes across studies, the evidence provides impetus for use of internal memory strategies with individuals following brain injury.

Conclusions: Individuals with traumatic brain injury may benefit from internal memory strategy use, and clinicians should consider internal memory strategy instruction as part of intervention plans. Further research needs to better delineate influences on intervention candidacy and outcomes.

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Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr O'Neil-Pirozzi); Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr O'Neil-Pirozzi); Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Chapman University, Orange, California (Dr Kennedy); and Communication Disorders & Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon (Dr Sohlberg).

Corresponding Author: Therese M. O'Neil-Pirozzi, ScD, CCC-SLP, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Ave, 70 Forsyth Bldg, Room 103, Boston, MA 02115 (

This project was supported by the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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