There is no doubt that smartphones have revolutionized how we work, travel, stay connected and, well, live. More than just finding the closest Starbucks, or finding the quickest route home during rush hour traffic, the latest smartphones and tablets have also revolutionized therapy for survivors of traumatic brain injury.
For TBI patients, rehabilitating short term memory is a difficult struggle that plays a major role in rehabilitation. Many TBI survivors cannot recall basic details to get through the day without significant assistance, and cannot retain memory beyond a few minutes in time. TBI survivors frequently rely on copious notes with lengthy details to simply navigate a single task in a given day. Many rely on caregivers for cues and reminders to help them with daily tasks, such as remembering to take medication, or assistance with completing the preparation of a simple meal from beginning to end.
A new study suggests that tablets, such as Apple’s immensely popular iPad, can actually assist TBI survivors with short term memory rehab. The Royal Centre in Sydney, Australia trained 21 TBI patients to use personal digital assistants (PDAs) instead of relying upon diaries and human reminders, for help with tasks and alarms that were pre-loaded into the calendar. The patients received multiple alarms for reminders throughout the day for medications, and other pre-arranged tasks to help the patients handle their days. Pictures of friends and family members were loaded into the PDAs to help patients put names with faces. At the same time, another group of patients continued on without PDAs and relied upon the traditional diary method. At the conclusion of the two-month study, the patients using PDAs had a greater level of improved memory function over those working with diaries only.
In addition to improved memory functions, devices like the iPad and their applications, commonly called “apps,” have assisted TBI victims who struggle to communicate verbally. Here is a list of 27 life-changing apps for TBI patients for the iPhone and iPad:
And for the android:
As research develops and continues to show progress in TBI recovery, insurance companies may start treating these devices with great deference and may start to cover them for patients undergoing rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury.