Vascular Cognitive Impairment After Mild Stroke: Connectomic Insights, Neuroimaging, and Knowledge Translation

Front Neurosci. 2022 Jul 7;16:905979. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2022.905979. eCollection 2022.


Contemporary stroke assessment protocols have a limited ability to detect vascular cognitive impairment (VCI), especially among those with subtle deficits. This lesser-involved categorization, termed mild stroke (MiS), can manifest compromised processing speed that negatively impacts cognition. From a neurorehabilitation perspective, research spanning neuroimaging, neuroinformatics, and cognitive neuroscience supports that processing speed is a valuable proxy for complex neurocognitive operations, insofar as inefficient neural network computation significantly affects daily task performance. This impact is particularly evident when high cognitive loads compromise network efficiency by challenging task speed, complexity, and duration. Screening for VCI using processing speed metrics can be more sensitive and specific. Further, they can inform rehabilitation approaches that enhance patient recovery, clarify the construct of MiS, support clinician-researcher symbiosis, and further clarify the occupational therapy role in targeting functional cognition. To this end, we review relationships between insult-derived connectome alterations and VCI, and discuss novel clinical approaches for identifying disruptions of neural networks and white matter connectivity. Furthermore, we will frame knowledge translation efforts to leverage insights from cutting-edge structural and functional connectomics research. Lastly, we highlight how occupational therapists can provide expertise as knowledge brokers acting within their established scope of practice to drive substantive clinical innovation.

Keywords: cognitive dysfunction; connectomics; neurocognitive function; neuroimaging; neurorehabilitation; occupational therapy; stroke; translational medical research.

Publication types

  • Review