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Memory impairments affecting encoding, acquisition, and retrieval of information after moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) have debilitating and enduring functional consequences. The interventional research reviewed primarily focused on mild to severe memory impairments in episodic and prospective memory. As memory is a common focus of cognitive rehabilitation, clinicians should understand and use the latest evidence. Therefore, the INCOG (“International Cognitive”) 2014 clinical practice guidelines were updated.


An expert panel of clinicians/researchers reviewed evidence published since 2014 and developed updated recommendations for intervention for memory impairments post-TBI, a decision-making algorithm, and an audit tool for review of clinical practice.


The interventional research approaches for episodic and prospective memory from 2014 are synthesized into 8 recommendations (6 updated and 2 new). Six recommendations are based on level A evidence and 2 on level B. In summary, they include the efficacy of choosing individual or multiple internal compensatory strategies, which can be delivered in a structured or individualized program. Of the external compensatory strategies, which should be the primary strategy for severe memory impairment, electronic reminder systems such as smartphone technology are preferred, with technological advances increasing their viability over traditional systems. Furthermore, microprompting personal digital assistant technology is recommended to cue completion of complex tasks. Memory strategies should be taught using instruction that considers the individual's functional and contextual needs while constraining errors. Memory rehabilitation programs can be delivered in an individualized or mixed format using group instruction. Computer cognitive training should be conducted with therapist guidance. Limited evidence exists to suggest that acetylcholinesterase inhibitors improve memory, so trials should include measures to assess impact. The use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is not recommended for memory rehabilitation.


These recommendations for memory rehabilitation post-TBI reflect the current evidence and highlight the limitations of group instruction with heterogeneous populations of TBI. Further research is needed on the role of medications and tDCS to enhance memory.


This article was originally published in Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, volume 38, issue 1, in 2023.

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