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Smartphones, tablets help memory for Ohio brain injury patients

When most people think about the recovery path for people who have traumatic brain injurys, one of the first things that comes to mind is often the difficult path for remembering things. However, a new breakthrough in medical research may benefit individuals in Columbus and throughout the country who are recovering from traumatic brain injurys.

According to a new study, smartphones and tablet computers can play a lifesaving role for traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients.

Most patients who are recovering from TBIs use countless notebooks to track reminders about everything, and they must rely on their loved ones to provide assistance in everyday tasks.

In the study, two groups of 21 TBI patients were studied. The first group received extensive training on the use of personal digital assistants (PDAs), including tablets and smartphones. The PDAs featured calendars that had reminders for daily tasks, such as appointments, taking medications and cleaning.

Each task sounded an alarm, and a description popped up describing the activity that should be completed. The PDAs also included names and pictures of people patients struggled to remember. Laminated instructions for using the PDAs were also attached to their carrying cases.

The other group of 21 TBI patients was trained to use traditional paper diaries as supplemental memory banks. When the study was over, the researchers determined that the individuals using PDAs had more improved memory functions than those who used paper.

The lead researcher in the study believed that the primary cause for the improved memory was the alarm that sounded. Rather than relying on nagging from family members, TBI patients were able to fully control their schedules.

If the study is accepted well at upcoming conferences, it will be presented to insurance companies, so they can fund the devices for brain injury patients.

Source: WA Today, "Tech toys help brain injury patients," Belinda Tasker, 28 June 2011

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