Systematic Review: Interventions for Fatigue after Traumatic Brain Injury


CITATION: Cantor JB, Ashman T, Bushnik T, Cai X, Farrell-Carnahan L, Gumber S, Hart T, Rosenthal T, Dijkers MP. (2014). Interventions for Fatigue after Traumatic Brain Injury: A NIDRR Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Study. Journal Head Trauma Rehabilitation. 29(6), 490-7. doi: 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000102.

OBJECTIVE: To conduct a systematic review of the evidence on interventions for posttraumatic brain injury fatigue (PTBIF).

METHODS: Systematic searches of multiple databases for peer-reviewed studies published in English on interventions targeting PTBIF as a primary or secondary outcome through January 22, 2014. Reference sections were also reviewed to identify additional articles. Articles were rated using the 2011 American Academy of Neurology Classification of Evidence Scheme for therapeutic studies.

RESULTS: The searches yielded 1526 articles. Nineteen articles met all inclusion criteria: 4 class I, 1 class II/III, 10 class III, and 4 class IV. Only 5 articles examined fatigue as a primary outcome. Interventions were pharmacological and psychological or involved physical activity, bright blue light, electroencephalographic biofeedback, or electrical stimulation. Only 2 interventions (modafinil and cognitive behavioral therapy with fatigue management) were evaluated in more than 1 study.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite areas of promise, there is insufficient evidence to recommend or contraindicate any treatments of PTBIF. Modafinil is not likely to be effective for PTBIF. Piracetam may reduce it, as may bright blue light. Cognitive behavioral therapy deserves additional study. High-quality research incorporating appropriate definition and measurement of fatigue is required to explore the potential benefits of promising interventions, evaluate fatigue treatments shown to be effective in other populations, and develop new interventions for PTBIF.

Pubmed Abstract: