Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the most significant cause of death and severe disability following major trauma within Australia. Populations at risk include young adults aged 15 to 34, older adults, and military personnel. The main form of intervention following traumatic brain injury is rehabilitation, which places a large demand on the healthcare system. Telerehabilitation involves interventions delivered via telecommunication, which can improve accessibility and reduce this burden. There have been no systematic reviews conducted on the effectiveness of telerehabilitation in treating traumatic brain injury.
Purpose: To examine the effectiveness of telerehabilitation for adults with traumatic brain injury.
Methods: A systematic search of Medline, Embase, the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Scopus, The Cochrane Library, OTSeeker and Google Scholar was conducted. Studies were included with participants aged 18 to 64 with traumatic brain injury and receiving telerehabilitation interventions. Methodological quality was assessed using the critical appraisal tools: Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklist for randomised controlled trials, and McMaster Critical Review for Quantitative Studies for non-randomised studies.
Results: Three randomised controlled trials, one pseudo-randomised controlled trial, one case-control trial and one pre-post case series were included in this systematic review. Critical appraisal of the included studies revealed overall methodological quality to be moderate. A range of interventions with differing parameters were used as part of telerehabilitation. Collectively, there is some consistent evidence to indicate that telerehabilitation may be equally effective as other forms of care in the delivery of cognitive and psychological interventions, in addressing memory and depressive symptoms for adults with mild to severe traumatic brain injury. However, it is unclear if it is superior to other forms of care.
Conclusions: A small number of studies have investigated the effect of telerehabilitation for adults with traumatic brain injury. The current evidence base is limited due to lack of standardised intervention parameters, outcomes measures and robust sample size. Despite these limitations, telerehabilitation may offer a complementary model of care for adults with traumatic brain injury, especially in instances where traditional models of care may not be readily accessible (such as those in rural and remote areas).
Betts S, Feichter L, Kleinig Z, O'Connell-Debais A, Thai H, Wong C, et al. Telerehabilitation Versus Standard Care for Improving Cognitive Function and Quality of Life for Adults with Traumatic Brain Injury: a Systematic Review. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2018 Jul 06;16(3), Article 9.