Smartphone technology: Gentle reminders of everyday tasks for those with prospective memory difficulties post-brain injury

Brain Inj. 2015;29(5):583-91. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2014.1002109. Epub 2015 Jan 27.


Background: Prospective memory is a common deficit following brain injury that can reduce an individuals' ability to complete everyday tasks. The smartphone is a device that may compensate for these difficulties using the calendar's prompting function. Reminders can be programmed remotely using email to phone synchronization.

Objective: To explore whether smartphone reminders help people complete pre-identified tasks as compared to when reminders are not provided.

Methods: An ABAB case series design compared reminder present vs. reminder absent phases with regards completion of pre-set tasks. Six participants aged 24-55 with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and five caregivers participated in the study. Both completed a series of questionnaires looking at the impact of the smartphone reminders on everyday memory functioning at pre, post and follow-up. A 3-month follow-up questionnaire assessed continued use of the system.

Results: There was a significant improvement in task completion rates when smartphone reminders were provided. A thematic analysis identified that smartphone reminders improved independence, confidence in coping with memory difficulties and general mood. All participants were still using the system at 3-month follow-up.

Conclusions: Smartphone reminders may provide a cost-effective, accessible and non-stigmatizing tool for participants to compensate for prospective memory difficulties.

Keywords: Brain injury; compensation; memory; smartphone; strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / psychology
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / psychology
  • Memory Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reminder Systems / instrumentation*
  • Smartphone*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires