Apathy is a term that refers to a general state of not caring-lack of initiative
or drive, limited activity or energy, and no motivation to work towards
goals. In traumatic brain injury, apathy is common; it's reported
in as much as 71% of patients.
Traditionally, apathy has been detrimental to rehabilitation efforts because
of the difficulties in getting the apathetic patient motivated enough
to participate. And treatment of apathy itself has been extremely limited,
with no guiding program for rehabilitation specialists to follow.
However, a recent experimental case study has shown that apathy can be
treated effectively. The treatment used motivational interviewing techniques
and external compensation in order to initiate and sustain goal-oriented
behaviors. The motivational interviewing included one-on-one sessions
where specific goals were created, progress was reviewed, and barriers
were addressed. External compensation was provided in the form of reminder
alerts in the patient's PDA.
The treatment not only significantly reduced the patient's apathy,
it also improved his functional and cognitive scores as well. Although
the treatment consumed a good deal of time and energy from the rehabilitation
staff, the results showed that the investment of focused treatment could
ultimately provide a more efficient rehabilitation program.
Lane-Brown A, & Tate R. Evaluation of an intervention for apathy after
traumatic brain injury: A multiple-baseline, single-case experimental design. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (April 2010).