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Retooling cognitive rehabilitation for patients with traumatic brain injury

Our colleague Kate Sul­li­van, who led a superb SharpBrains Virtual Summit workshop on How to Set Up a Brain Fit­ness Cen­ter to Enhance Cog­ni­tive Retrain­ing and Reha­bil­i­ta­tion, based on her experience at Wal­ter Reed National Mil­i­tary Med­ical Center, just alerted us of a new study prepared by her team: Outcomes from a Pilot Study using Computer-Based Rehabilitative Tools in a Military Population (Studies in Health Technology and Informatics).

  • Abstract: Novel therapeutic approaches and outcome data are needed for cognitive rehabilitation for patients with a traumatic brain injury; computer-based programs may play a critical role in filling existing knowledge gaps. Brain-fitness computer programs can complement existing therapies, maximize neuroplasticity, provide treatment beyond the clinic, and deliver objective efficacy data. However, these approaches have not been extensively studied in the military and traumatic brain injury population. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center established its Brain Fitness Center (BFC) in 2008 as an adjunct to traditional cognitive therapies for wounded warriors. The BFC offers commercially available “brain-training” products for military Service Members to use in a supportive, structured environment. Over 250 Service Members have utilized this therapeutic intervention. Each patient receives subjective assessments pre and post BFC participation including the Mayo-Portland Adaptability Inventory-4 (MPAI-4), the Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory (NBSI), and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS). A review of the first 29 BFC participants, who finished initial and repeat measures, was completed to determine the effectiveness of the BFC program. Two of the three questionnaires of self-reported symptom change completed before and after participation in the BFC revealed a statistically significant reduction in symptom severity based on MPAI and NBSI total scores (p < .05). There were no significant differences in the SWLS score. Despite the typical limitations of a retrospective chart review, such as variation in treatment procedures, preliminary results reveal a trend towards improved self-reported cognitive and functional symptoms.

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Pic: courtesy of Kate Sulivan

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