In prior open trials, palmtop computers with scheduling software providing alarmed reminders have proven helpful to substantial
numbers of clients as memory aids to compensate for prospective memory
impairment following traumatic brain injury. The present study undertook a controlled examination of the hypothesis that palmtop computer-based memory aids would prove more effective in enhancing prospective memory task performance than would other conditions.
Subjects (independently functioning outpatients who had sustained traumatic brain injury) were enrolled for a 6-week study in which they were assigned twice daily phone-in times for five work days each week. They were instructed to make their calls to a date- and time-stamped voice mail system where call completion and timing were recorded as prospective memory task compliance measures. Week 1 of the study served as a baseline period during which twice-daily calls were assigned but no memory aids were provided.
During Weeks 2 and 3, subjects were randomly assigned to either a
paper-based memory aid (commercial schedule book), or a palmtop computer, to remind them of call-in times, and call completion rates and timing were again recorded. Week 4 was a return to baseline without memory aids, and, in Weeks 5 and 6, subjects made use of the memory aid (paper schedule book or palmtop computer) that they had not used in Weeks 2 and 3. Compliance rates showed highly significant differences between the palmtop computer condition and both the baseline condition and the paper-based memory aid condition, providing controlled behavioral evidence for the effectiveness previously reported in open studies