This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Changes in Memory After TBI. Dr. Angelle Sander discusses Importance of Family Support with Memory Strategies.

After a traumatic brain injury, when someone is learning to use a memory strategy, they often need the support of family members and friends initially. This is because memory problems make it difficult for them to learn to use the strategy. So oftentimes, family members or friends will be needed to prompt them to use the strategy.

For example, if someone has a memory notebook, they'll often forget to use it if someone doesn't remind them. So initially, family members can remind them to write important appointments in the memory notebook and to review it throughout the day.

So whether transportation needs to be arranged or whether they need to, if they're going to a doctor's appointment, come up with some questions that they want to ask the doctor or symptoms that they have that they want to tell the doctor about and write those in the memory notebook, and then look at it at regular times throughout the day.

And initially, family members may need to prompt them to do that. It's also important if you're a family member or friend of a person with a brain injury to not just always give them the information when they ask. So for example, if they say, when's my next neurology appointment, rather than saying, it's on June 15th, say, how can you find that out?

Look in your memory notebook. Where would you look to find that? With repetition, people will learn to use those strategies independently, and they'll know where to look and know when to look for the information that they need. But initially, they may need help doing that, and that help can gradually be weaned over time as they learn to use it on their own.

Allison N. Clark, Ph.D.: So another thing is when working with our, these persons who have survived these traumatic brain injuries and also their families is that everyone is on the same page when it comes to these compensatory memory strategies. Because sometimes again if family is doing something different than the person with injury is doing that can cause a breakdown in the strategy. So I know we talked about how a failure gives us important information, that we learn from our failures.

So for example if one, if the goal was to remember where you put the remote control for the TV set and you know the strategy is to always put the remote control in a special little glass bowl that’s on a side table, it’s important that everybody in the family is doing that because otherwise the strategy is not going to break down, is going to break down. So sometimes the, what we learn from these failures is that sometimes it’s not the patient that’s having the problem but maybe the mother or the dad forgot.

And that they need reminding to always put this back in the same place, again so the person with the injury can find it.

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