Feasibility of modifying the hospital environment to reduce the length of amnesia after traumatic brain injury: a pilot randomized controlled trial

Int J Qual Health Care. 2021 Mar 16;33(1):mzab044. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzab044.


Background: Reorientation programmes have been an important component of neurotrauma rehabilitation for adults who suffer from post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) after traumatic brain injury (TBI); however, research testing the efficacy of acute programmes is limited.

Objective: This study aimed to determine if it is feasible to provide a standardized environmental reorientation programme to adults suffering from PTA after TBI in an acute care hospital setting, and whether it is likely to be beneficial.

Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial with concealed allocation and intention-to-treat analysis. A total of 40 participants suffering from PTA after TBI were included. The control group received usual care; the experimental group received usual care plus a standardized orientation programme inclusive of environmental cues. The primary outcome measure was time to emergence from PTA measured by the Westmead PTA Scale, assessed daily from hospital admission or on regaining consciousness.

Results: Adherence to the orientation programme was high, and there were no study-related adverse responses to the environmental orientation programme. Although there were no statistically significant between-group differences in time to emergence, the median time to emergence was shorter for those who received the standardized reorientation programme (9.0 (6.4-11.6) versus 13.0 (4.5-21.5) days). Multivariate analysis showed that the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) at scene (P = 0.041) and GCS at arrival at hospital (P = 0.0001) were significant factors contributing to the longer length of PTA.

Conclusion: Providing an orientation programme in acute care is feasible for adults suffering from PTA after TBI. A future efficacy trial would require 216 participants to detect a between-group difference of 5 days with an alpha of 0.05 and a power of 80%.

Keywords: agitation; post-traumatic amnesia; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amnesia / etiology*
  • Amnesia / rehabilitation*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / complications*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / rehabilitation*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Male
  • Orientation*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Victoria