(Photo:Flickr/Patrick Denker)

As instances of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) among young athletes have more than doubled in the past 10 years in the U.S. and roughly 10 million people worldwide are suffering from a TBI, a report from the Institute of Medicine is suggesting that there might be evidence supporting that Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy (CRT) could be an effective way to treat these patients.

The panel responsible for the report identifies CRT as an umbrella term for a range of systematic, goal-oriented approaches to overcoming or compensating for cognitive impairments such as those caused by TBI. They said that there are several forms of the therapy that vary based on technique as well as the symptoms they target.

Along with affecting athletes, TBIs have also had an impact on those serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts:

“TBI has become known as the ‘signature wound’ of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2000 to 2010, the number of military service members diagnosed with TBI nearly tripled from just under 11,000 to more than 30,700, the report notes. The majority of injuries are mild and only a small percentage are severe, but recovery is often lengthy and incomplete, especially in more severe cases. The report responds to a request from the U.S. Department of Defense for an objective evaluation of CRT’s effectiveness to guide decisions about the use and coverage of these interventions in the military health system.”

Though there is evidence to suggest that CRT could be a valuable treatment option for TBI sufferers, larger sample sizes and standardized data are required to improve future studies of CRT’s effectiveness for TBI treatment, according to the report.

“Survivors of traumatic brain injury may face long-term challenges in rehabilitation and reintegration to everyday life. They need an effective health care infrastructure and evidence-based treatment and rehabilitation policies to care for and cope with their impairments,” said Ira Shoulson, chair of the committee responsible for the study. “This report lays out a research agenda to surmount the shortcomings and challenges that have thus far limited our understanding of the full effectiveness of various forms of cognitive rehabilitation therapy in helping patients with different severity and stages of TBI.”

Source: Institute of Medicine

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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