The value of cognitive screening after mild TBI

Cognitive impairment resolves in a majority of patients after mild TBI but nevertheless significant numbers can still have disabling cognitive symptoms. The most common impairments are in the area of awareness, processing speed, memory, attention and executive function. However not all patients will have the same impairments - brain injury is highly variable and therefore cognitive testing is key to pinpointing the deficits in a particular individual.

Formal neuropsychometric assessment administered by a neuropsychologist or similar competent person would be ideal but this is not always practical even in a specialist setting.  Traditional “pencil and paper” testing can provide useful information in the clinic although they are not ideal for evaluating cognition after a TBI. Such methods are not effective at identifying impairments of attention, processing speed and executive function.

Computerised assessment is increasingly used and is popular for example in sports injury situations where assessment might be conducted pre-season and then repeated following an injury.

RehaCom users have used the software training modules for “assessment" for many years . However, with the advent of RehaCom's built in screening modules this process has become much more refined.  The current screening modules include

  • Alertness
  • Divided attention
  • Response Control
  • Working memory and orientation
  • Spatial Numbers search 
  • Memory for words
  • Logical reasoning
  • Visual field
  • Visual scanning

Although RehaCom is a therapy tool and its primary focus is on rehabilitation of cognitive impairments, the optional screening tools within RehaCom just give a hint according to the measured deviation from expected norms.

The results give a quick overview of which cognitive functions are affected and align very well to some of the common deficits encountered after a mild TBI. This allows therapy to commence without delay, supported with knowledge of the RehaCom procedures that will be most helpful. More specific diagnostic tools can be applied afterwards when required.  Data from around 200 healthy people were included to define the "norms" for screening purposes.

Learn more about the screening modules here.