Impact of baseline neurocognitive functioning on outcomes following rehabilitation of executive function training for veterans with history of traumatic brain injury

Appl Neuropsychol Adult. Mar-Apr 2020;27(2):108-120. doi: 10.1080/23279095.2018.1490738. Epub 2018 Oct 8.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is common among Veterans, and sequelae frequently include deficits in attention and executive function and problems with emotional regulation. Although rehabilitation has been shown to be effective, it is not clear how patient characteristics such as baseline cognitive status may impact response to rehabilitation in this sample. Explore the relationship between baseline neuropsychological status and postintervention functional outcomes in Veterans with chronic TBI. Thirty-three Veterans with chronic mild-severe TBI completed a neuropsychological evaluation, a functional assessment of executive function (EF), and measures of emotional and everyday functioning pre- and post-EF training or control training. Performance on baseline neuropsychological measures was used to cluster participants. Participants' performance at baseline and postintervention assessments was compared by cluster using multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs). Cognitive Difficulty (CD; n = 19) and Cognitively Normal (CN; n = 14) clusters were identified. CD was characterized by z ≤ -.75 on neuropsychological measures of overall attention/EF, working memory, and memory. CD participants performed worse on functional EF assessment and endorsed more PTSD symptoms and community integration problems, at baseline. CD participants improved post-EF training, but not control training, on neuropsychological and functional measures. CN participants did not show statistically significant improvement. For Veterans with chronic TBI, cognitive assessment can aid in identifying functional impairment and assist treatment planning. Cognitive rehabilitation training appears to be a beneficial treatment option for TBI patients with cognitive, emotional, and daily living difficulties.

Keywords: Executive function; rehabilitation; traumatic brain injury.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / etiology
  • Affective Symptoms / rehabilitation*
  • Brain Concussion / complications
  • Brain Concussion / rehabilitation*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / rehabilitation*
  • Cognitive Remediation*
  • Executive Function* / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Psychomotor Performance* / physiology
  • Veterans*