Rehabilitation: Psychotherapy Promotes Prolonged Benefits in Patients with Brain Injury
The initial stages of rehabilitation in patients with acquired brain injury (ABI)—a brain injury that occurs after birth and is not congenital or progressive—focus on cognitive and physical symptoms. However, psychological symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, are often left unaddressed at this stage. These symptoms can persist for years and are associated with poor recovery and decreased quality of life. TRI Senior Scientist Dr. Robin Green examined whether cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)—a psychotherapeutic treatment that helps understand and address the thoughts and feelings that influence actions—could have psychological benefits and improve community integration in recovering ABI patients.
Seventeen patients with long-term ABI, nine years after initial injury, were provided with eleven CBT sessions, in either group therapy or telephone formats. Psychological assessments and community integration questionnaires were provided before and after CBT, as well as at a six month follow-up appointment. Psychological distress and community integration significantly improved six months after the CBT sessions, indicating a sustained benefit from therapy.
"The findings are promising as they suggest that even a brief intervention a decade after the initial injury can have lasting benefits," says Dr. Green. "Interestingly, this study supports the use of CBT via telephone, known as teletherapy, potentially increasing accessibility to and reducing costs of psychotherapy."
Cognitive behavior therapy after acquired brain injury: maintenance of therapeutic benefits at 6 months posttreatment. Arundine A, Bradbury CL, Dupuis K, Dawson DR, Ruttan LA, Green RE. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. 2012 March-April. [Pubmed abstract]
This research was supported by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. Dr. Green is a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Traumatic Brain Injury.