We recently hosted a Master Class series of presentations at the European Neurological Rehabilitation Expo held in June. Michael Preier, a Neuropsychologist from Germany attended and presented on "Evidence basied computer-aided neuropsychological treatment of cognitive disorders with RehaCom". In a series of articles we will highlight aspects of this presentation.
Cognitive deficits are very common following all types of acquired brain injury and take many forms including deficits of attention, memory, executive function and so on. Severity also varies significantly. Cognitive deficits can also occur as a result of ageing, psychiatric illness, alcohol or drug addiction and chronic stress.
Whatever the cause, cognitive impairment has a big impact on patients and their relatives and friends. This can significantly impact upon quality of life and general health.
In general, three approaches are available for dealing with cognitive deficits
- Restitution approaches
- Compensation approaches
- Environmental modifications
Once upon a time, it was assumed that restitution of function was not likely as it was believed that the brain could not recover function once lost - but as we have learned more about the natural resiliance and plasticity of the brain we have recognised that gains in function are indeed possible.
Compensation strategies have historically had a more mature evidence base - partly because it has been the subject of more research. The research on restitution of function has grown rapidly in recent years as it's potential power was recognised.
RehaCom takes advantage of BOTH strategies and in that sense provides a unique and comprehensive toolbox for the therapist to use.
A recent study by Cambell and Langdon et al looked at 38 patients with MS and cognitve deficits. They were assigned to a treatment group using RehaCom and a Control Group. The treatment group trained 3 times per week with RehaCom for 6 weeks. At the end of the study the treatment group showed improvements via neuropsychological testing. Via fMRI testing these subjects also showed increased activation in parietal and frontal regions of the brain when carrying out a memory task. This can be viewed as direct evidence of neuronal pasticity as a result of using RehaCom.
J Campbell, D Langdon, M Cercignani and W Rashid (2016).
A Randomised Controlled Trial of Efficacy of Cognitive Rehabilitation in Multiple. Sclerosis: A Cognitive, Behavioral and MRI Study. Neural Plasticity doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/4292585