Primary objective: To determine the profile of resolution of typical PTA behaviours and describe new learning and improvements in self-care during PTA.
Research design: Prospective longitudinal study monitoring PTA status, functional learning and behaviours on a daily basis.
Methods and procedures: Participants were 69 inpatients with traumatic brain injury who were in PTA. PTA was assessed using the Westmead or Oxford PTA assessments. Functional learning capability was assessed using a routine set of daily tasks and behaviour was assessed using an observational checklist. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics.
Main outcomes and results: Challenging behaviours that are typically associated with PTA, such as agitation, aggression and wandering resolved in the early stages of PTA and incidence rates of these behaviours were less than 20%. Independence in self-care and bowel and bladder continence emerged later during resolution of PTA. New learning in functional situations was demonstrated by patients in PTA.
Conclusions: It is feasible to begin active rehabilitation focused on functional skills-based learning with patients in the later stages of PTA. Formal assessment of typically observed behaviours during PTA may complement memory-based PTA assessments in determining emergence from PTA.