How is a severe head injury defined?
Severe head injury is usually defined as being a condition where the patient has been in an unconscious state for 6 hours or more after a trauma, or post-traumatic amnesia of 24 hours or more. These patients are likely to be hospitalised and receive rehabilitation once the acute phase has passed. Depending on the length of time in coma, these patients tend to have serious physical and psychological deficits. (Headway www.headway.org.uk)
How is a severe injury psychologically assessed?
Psychologists use a range of standardised psychological tests to determine abnormal brain function through performance of these tests. This will lead to a diagnosis of which area of the brain is impaired and what kind of rehabilitation the patient requires.
“Neuropsychological evaluation (NPE) is a testing method through which a neuropsychologist can acquire data about a subject’s cognitive, motor, behavioural, linguistic, and executive functioning. In the hands of a trained neuropsychologist, this data can provide information leading to the diagnosis of a cognitive deficit or to the confirmation of a diagnosis, as well as to the localisation of organic abnormalities in the central nervous system (CNS). The data can also guide effective treatment methods for the rehabilitation of impaired patients.”
What treatments are available?
Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy: this is a program to help brain injured or otherwise cognitively impaired patients to restore normal functioning or to compensate for cognitive deficits. It entails an individualised program of specific skills training and practice. These include helping the patient increase self–awareness regarding problem solving skills by learning how to monitor the effectiveness of these skills and self-correct when necessary.
Professor Barbera A. Wilson. MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge. Cognitive rehabilitation is “…a patient driven approach that uses a combination of learning theory, cognitive psychology and cognitive neuropsychology to identify and remediate cognitive difficulties.” (Journal of the International Neurological Society,1997,3,487-496)
This helps patients function better in everyday life.
Safety of treatment
Non invasive, very safe.