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The Contextual Memory Test (CMT): A Memory Screen Following TBI

Following a traumatic brain injury (TBI), individuals are most often first to notice and mention difficulties with their memory. They realize that they are forgetting simple everyday things such as people’s names, conversations or appointments.

Memory impairments can have a devastating effect on everyday life. Events and activities become forgotten and disconnected.

Occupational therapists (OT) work with these clients with memory difficulties to learn both remedial and compensatory strategies to overcome the impairments. However, to understand the areas of memory difficulty for the client, the OT initially needs to conduct memory testing. To discover and evaluate the client’s areas of difficulty with memory during initial consultations following a TBI, allows us to better plan and decide on an appropriate route of treatment.

One of the initial memory screens we use in our assessments is the Contextual Memory Test (CMT). Joan Toglia created the CMT in 1993. It is standardized and validated for adult 18 years or older.

It is used to objectively measure awareness of memory capacity, strategy use and recall in adults with memory dysfunction. It assess 3 areas of memory including: awareness of memory capacity, recall of line-drawn items, and strategy use.

The CMT uses pictures of related objects as the items to be remembered. There are 2 versions of the test that are related to a “theme”. They include a Restaurant version which contains items typically related to a restaurant scene and a Morning version which contains items related to what a person does when getting up in the morning.

It has the following strengths:

  • Easy to administer
  • Requires only 5-10 minutes to administer
  • Uses familiar objects as the items to be remembered
  • Provides objective measures of awareness and strategy use
  • Suggests areas for additional testing.

Following the results of the CMT, the OT is able to make recommendations and it provides a support basis to complete further more in depth memory testing as well as treatment.

To learn more about the CMT or other assessments used at GLA, please contact us. We would be happy to provide you with more information.