BEAT Fatigue: a pilot study to reduce fatigue after brain injury

A pilot study to reduce fatigue after brain injury

  • Contact: Dr Alice Theadom -

Fatigue is a persistent problem that affects 73% of people after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Interventions have been found to improve levels of fatigue in other populations (e.g., cancer, multiple sclerosis and stroke) but there is little evidence on interventions for people following brain injury.


This pilot randomised controlled trial aims to explore whether an Cognitive behaviour based educational and behavioural intervention or physical activity group interventions are feasible to implement for people after a brain injury and to explore if there are any trends in improvement.


Participants will be recruited through TBI service providers in Auckland. A sample of n=20 (N=10 per group) will be recruited.

Inclusion criteria:

1) Aged over 18 years; 2) who have moderate to severe fatigue (defined as a Fatigue Severity Scale score >3.9) will be recruited into the study; 3) 3- months to five years post-TBI.

Participants who consent to participate in the study will be randomised to receive either a CBT based educational and behavioural intervention or, physical activity therapy intervention.


Both the physical activity and educational interventions will be delivered weekly, for 60 minutes over six weeks duration either in an individual or group (up to 5) format. Participants will be encouraged to bring a supportive friend/family member with them to the sessions. The sessions will include a 10 minute break and will be facilitated by a trained physiotherapist or OT.

Educational Group Sessions:

All sessions will include a combination of information provision about fatigue and fatigue management strategies, task focused activities and discussions. In the first session, each participant will receive a Participant Booklet, which includes information to accompany each session, as well as a fatigue and activity diary.

Physical Activity Group Sessions:

These sessions will be supervised by a Qualified Physiotherapist and the physical activity programme tailored to meet the individual needs of the research participants. The focus will be on increasing participants activity levels (as a way of reducing fatigue), education on the relationships between activity and fatigue and discussions around how to implement the strategies in everyday life.

Outcome Assessment:

Participants will complete a range of outcome measures exploring fatigue, quality of life, mood and rehabilitation outcome on three occasions: baseline assessment, a post-treatment assessment and a follow up assessment (12 weeks) post treatment. Participants will also be given the opportunity to talk openly about their experiences of the intervention and their perceptions of its acceptability at the post-intervention assessment.

Funded by an AUT Faculty of Health and Environmental Studies Contestable Grant, the study was completed in November 2012.