Rehabilitation of Executive Function After Traumatic Brain Injury

man using walker

Organization, attention, and strategic planning are frequently problematic after traumatic brain injury. These issues reflect failures of executive function, a set of processes necessary for goal-directed behavior. Lack of executive control can complicate the recovery process for people with a traumatic brain injury; therefore, executive function should be specifically targeted for rehabilitation.

A recent study found that people with a traumatic brain injury who received goals training showed improvement in completing complex tasks. The training appeared especially strong on the protection of working memory from distractions, possibly due to the effectiveness of the mindfulness-based attention regulation techniques.

Participants reported that they were able to maintain the "Stop-Relax-Refocus" exercises in daily life. Other elements of training included goal selection, breaking down tasks into smaller subtasks, establishing a timeline, execution, error correction and adjustments, and progress review.

These findings are supported by recent research on attention and problem solving training for people with a traumatic brain injury who show improvements on functional measures and caregiver ratings.

Novakovic-Agopian, T, Chen, AJW, Rome, S, et al. Rehabilitation of executive functioning with training in attention regulation applied to individually defined goals: A pilot study bridging theory, assessment, and treatment. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (October 2011).