Clinicians at The James Cook University Hospital are hoping to recruit patients to a new study investigating the benefits of rehabilitation in brain injury-associated memory loss.
The Middlesbrough site is one of nine in the country looking to test the effectiveness of a new memory-specific rehabilitation programme for patients affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI).
TBI occurs when a person sustains a trauma to the head, commonly due to road traffic accidents, assaults and falls. A large number of those affected each year are serving military personnel.
Around half (between 40 per cent and 60 per cent) of people with the condition are affected with memory problems which are not only persistent but are debilitating and can have a severe impact on the quality of their life. Many cannot return to work and it can seriously affect their social life and relationships.
The ReMemBrin – Rehabilitation of Memory following Brain Injuries – trial hopes to recruit around 400 patients with TBI giving them an opportunity to attend a weekly group, for ten weeks, focussing on rehabilitation specifically aimed at reducing memory loss, or have their usual care.
Dr Jenna Moffitt, clinical psychologist and clinical supervisor at James Cook, said: “Currently people who have had a brain injury do not always receive any further therapy after they leave hospital to help with their memory problems – there are very limited community services available.
“We’re looking for people who have had a head injury and who now find they have problems with their memory. The aim of this study is to compare a group-based memory rehabilitation programme with usual clinical care and hopefully improve treatment for these individuals in the future.”
Of those patients who are recruited, half will be allocated to usual care and half will be allocated to a memory rehabilitation intervention group, running once a week for ten weeks.
During the rehabilitation, patients learn about the nature of memory and discuss specific memory problems and why while some things may be easily remembered others can be more challenging.
They will then take part in a series of sessions discussing attention and concentration and how to improve these skills. Finally, they will have the opportunity to learn a range of different strategies to compensate for memory loss and retrain residual memory functions.
Participants will have follow up visits at six and 12 months to assess their progress and this will be compared to a group of patients who have received only the current clinical care to establish how effective the specialist rehabilitation has been.
The research is being co-ordinated by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which has received a £1million grant from the National Institute for Health Research Technology Assessment programme.
The South Tees team includes Dr Moffitt and Dr Stephen Evans, who are the principle investigators at this site, Dr Don Brechin (head of psychology) and Natasha Anderson (assistant psychologist).
People who have experienced a brain injury and are having memory problems can self-refer to the study by contacting Natasha on 07421 819091 and the study is currently open to anyone living in the TS, DH or DL postcodes.