One of the more common effects of a traumatic brain injury is a deficit in executive functioning, which includes skills such as maintaining attention, goal planning, or problem solving. Having poor executive functioning can become a major challenge in daily life. However, the clinical assessment of executive function often does not uncover the complex problems that can occur in real-world settings, and can therefore clinical assessment results can be unreliable.
A new tool was recently developed to assess executive functioning across real-life tasks. The Goal Processing Scale (GPS) evaluates the person's ability to perform three tasks within an office-based environment, assessing their abilities over the following stages: Planning, Initiative, Maintenance of Attention, Attentional Sequencing and Switching, Self-monitoring, Flexible Problem solving, Task Execution, and Learning & Memory.
In a recent pilot study, 19 participants with acquired brain injury were assessed using both the GPS and traditional neuropsychological tests. The GPS was shown to be a reliable measure of executive functioning, compared to both traditional assessment results and specific results useful for daily activities. Further research with a larger population is planned, but the GPS has the potential to be a more reliable and useful measure of executive functioning in the future.
Novakovic-Agopian T, Chen AJW, Rome S, et al. Assessment of subcomponents of executive functioning in ecologically valid settings: The Goal Processing Scale. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (April 2014).