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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2019 October;55(5):585-94

DOI: 10.23736/S1973-9087.18.05548-X

Copyright © 2018 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Cognitive training benefit depends on brain injury location in adolescents with traumatic brain injury: a pilot study

Catharine VANDER LINDEN 1 , Helena VERHELST 2, Ellen DESCHEPPER 3, Guy VINGERHOETS 2, Karel DEBLAERE 4, Karen CAEYENBERGHS 5

1 Child Rehabilitation Center, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium; 2 Department of Experimental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium; 3 Unit of Biostatistics, Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium; 4 Department of Neuroradiology, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium; 5 School of Psychology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia



BACKGROUND: Executive dysfunction after pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been linked to poor outcomes in school performance, social functioning and employment. The credibility of training-induced cognitive enhancement in TBI is threatened by its limited proof of benefit in executive skills of daily living.
AIM: Our primary aim was to investigate if cognitive intervention for improving impairments in executive functions in the chronic stage of TBI is effective during adolescence. The secondary aim was to explore whether training benefit is driven by injury location.
DESIGN: Prospective observational study.
SETTING: Child Rehabilitation Center of a University Hospital.
POPULATION: Sixteen adolescents with moderate to severe TBI (mean age 15 years and 8 months) and 16 age and gender matched healthy peers were included.
METHODS: Effects of a new cognitive training program (BrainGames) were assessed postintervention and 6 months later utilizing a comprehensive neuropsychological test-battery and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function. In addition, subgroup analyses were performed to determine long-term training benefit in the presence of lesions in corpus callosum, deep-brain-nuclei and prefrontal cortex.
RESULTS: Adolescents with TBI showed significant improvements on measures of executive functioning at completion of the training and at follow-up compared with the pre-tests. The presence or absence of diffuse-axonal-injuries (DAI) in the deep brain nuclei determined a significant difference in long-term training benefit.
CONCLUSIONS: This study provides preliminary evidence that cognitive training, beyond the acute rehabilitation period in adolescents with TBI is effective to boost executive functioning in daily living. Furthermore, we indicated that DAI in deep brain nuclei may jeopardize long-term benefit from cognitive training.
CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: Individualized rehabilitation programs are crucial in adolescents with different locations of TBI-lesions. Long term follow-up of pediatric TBI is essential.


KEY WORDS: Child; Brain injuries, traumatic; Chronic traumatic encephalopathy; Adolescent; Growth and development; Neurological rehabilitation

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