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Assessing planning and execution of immediate and prospective memory tasks by adults with acquired brain injury

Jessica A Brown, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Survivors of acquired brain injury (ABI) often struggle because of inadequate planning and task execution skills for completing activities of daily living that extend beyond routine tasks and require novel problem solving. Given the widespread prevalence and pervasive consequences of these deficits, professionals working with this population need adequate methods of assessing and predicting performance of functional daily activities. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of ecologically valid procedures to assess planning for and execution of multiple immediate and prospective events by individuals with ABI. Participants included nine adults with history of severe ABI and nine age-, gender-, and education-matched controls. Data collection occurred across two experimental phases—(a) prospective task planning and execution and (b) immediate task planning and execution. During both task planning phases, participants created a plan for later execution of daily tasks according to sets of pre-determined rules without the use of external strategy support. Following the immediate planning stage, participants executed immediate tasks while observed by the examiner. Over the subsequent 10 days, participants independently executed the prospective tasks. The researcher computed independent sample t-tests to determine the presence of significant group differences for planning and task execution variables and computed Pearson’s correlations between participants’ demographic information and task planning and execution performance as appropriate. Results of this study revealed that participants with and without ABI demonstrated variable planning strategies and behaviors; however, no significant differences emerged between planning time or the number of information units recorded for either planning phase. During both task execution phases, participants with ABI attempted and successfully completed significantly less immediate and prospective tasks and violated rules at significantly higher frequencies than their peers. Across all planning and task execution measures, individuals with ABI demonstrated highly variable performance. Rehabilitation professionals need a systematic means of gathering information about how survivors of ABI perform functional activities in naturalistic settings. The knowledge gained from the research findings serves as a basis for development of an assessment tool and additional research about accommodations that promote independent living by individuals with ABI.

Subject Area

Speech therapy|Occupational Therapy

Recommended Citation

Brown, Jessica A, "Assessing planning and execution of immediate and prospective memory tasks by adults with acquired brain injury" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI3687438.