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Use of a Divided Attention Test to assess emergence from Post Traumatic Amnesia
Joint meeting of the Australian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment and the International Neuropsychological Society - Annual Meeting - July 7-10 2004, Sheraton Brisbane Hotel, Brisbane Australia published in Brain Impairment, 2004, Vol. 5, p. 53.
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Recent studies have suggested that post traumatic amnesia (PTA) is best characterised as a disorder not just of memory, but includes deficits in attention and speed of information processing. Few studies have, however, prospectively examined recovery of attention during and after PTA. We present a single case study of an 18 year old man (FT) on a new test of divided attention, as he emerged from PTA. FT was assessed using a battery of cognitive and motor tasks that can be undertaken as single tasks or combined to assess dual task performance. We predicted that divided attention performance would be impaired whilst in PTA, but show substantial recovery with emergence from PTA. FT was tested twice while still in PTA and twice after emergence from PTA. His motor status was stable at the time of testing, demonstrated by the walking element of the test. He was able to perform the single tasks, satisfactorily, whilst in PTA. He could also do two motor tasks, and a motor and cognitive task together. However, he was severely impaired in performing dual cognitive tasks. As predicted, as he emerged from PTA (defined by an independent clinician), his performance on dual cognitive tasks showed significant recovery. The results further highlight the need to characterise PTA in terms broader than just memory functioning, and suggest that this divided attention test battery may be a useful tool in monitoring recovery from traumatic brain injury.