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Rehabilitation of sensory and cognitive function typically involves methods for retraining neural pathways or training new neural pathways to regain or improve neurocognitive functioning that has been diminished by disease or traumatic injury.
Speech therapy, occupational therapy, and many other methods that "exercise" specific brain functions are used. For example eye-hand coordination exercises may rehabilitate certain motor deficits, or well structured planning and organizing exercises might help rehabilitate certain frontal lobe "executive functions" of the brain following a traumatic blow to the head.
Brain functions that are impaired because of traumatic brain injuries are often the most challenging and difficult to rehabilitate. Much work is being done in nerve regeneration for the most severely damaged neural pathways.
three common neuropsychological problems treatable with rehabilitation are Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), concussion, and spinal cord injury.
There are many therapists and interventions for rehabilitation of children and adults who suffer ADHD, many of whom are parents of children with this problem. The most frequently used treatment method involves drugs such as Ritalin, and many argue that drugs do not rehabilitate but only relieve ADHD sufferers (and those around them) from the social and behavioral disruptiveness caused by attention deficiencies and hyperactive behavior.
However, many others argue that such symptom relief enables the sufferer and those around him or her to improve cognitive and motor functioning and controls through standard educational and social training that would otherwise be impossible.
The next most common rehabilitation approach for ADHD uses various and specific cognitive/behavioral methods to help establish new brain-behavior relationships or functioning that is impaired in sufferers of ADHD.
Much research and focus has been given to concussion suffered frequently by athletes. While the severity of brain trauma has been standardized for immediate "side-line" assessment, much work needs to be done to understand how to rehabilitate or accelerate the rehabilitation of athletes' brain function following serious concussion -- where consciousness is lost for a few moments or more. Currently, rehabilitation of concussive brain injury is based on "quiet" time without jarring motions that enables the brain to "heal" on its own.
Rehabilitation research and practices are a fertile area for clinical neuropsychologists and others.
Key texts – Books
- Champion, A (2006) Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. Wiley. ISBN 0-470-02639-1
- Halligan, P.W., & Wade, D.T. (Eds.) (2005). Effectiveness of Rehabilitation for Cognitive Deficits. Oxford University Press, UK.
- McKay Moore Sohlberg and Catherine A. Mateer (2001) COGNITIVE REHABILITATION: AN INTEGRATIVE NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH, Andover: Taylor and Francis
Additional material – Books
Key texts – Papers
Additional material - Papers
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