What is the neuropsychology? Importance of the rehabilitation in Acquired Brain Injury

What are the cognitive functions?

We understand for ‘cognitive functions’ the top capacities of our brain that allow us to perceive appropriately the environment, pay attention, remember facts, realize movements with the hands, plan our every day, reasoning, speaking and understanding, etc.

The cognitive functions would split into big branches: Perception, attention, memory, praxias language and executive functions. This discipline has suffered an important development in the last 20 years due to the biggest knowledge acquired on the functioning of the human brain and the advances in the processes of rehabilitation of the Acquired Brain Injury.

In what does a neuropsychologist differ from a psychologist?

The psychology is the branch of the science that is in charge of studying the conduct of people. The psychologist works on the emotional areas and the problematic conducts that could appear in the persons and that make them have worse quality of life. Here we find the obsessive-compulsive disorder, the anxiety, depression, problems in the Activities of Daily Living, emotional problems, self-esteem, etc.

The neuropsychologist for his part works on the already mentioned cognitive functions, which allow us to realize activities day by day.

Nevertheless, if there is a meeting point between both, is the emotional and behavioral problems that arise in the persons with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). Many persons who have suffered an ABI become irritable, apathetic; generate depression, impulsiveness, etc. Here the function of both neuropsychologist and psychologist is to bring them strategies to the person with Brain Injury, as to their families, in order to improve these symptoms that appear and to to favor the rehabilitation process improving this way their quality of life.

What does the neuropsychologist do?

After an Acquired Brain Injury, a traumatic brain Injury, a Stroke, or any other type of brain injury, a big number of effects take place. The most visible are the motor ones. Difficulties in the march, the movement, to remain in foot, mobility, etc. However, there are others not so visible, which affect the cognitive functions, like the ability to concentrate in a conversation, the ability to remember facts, or any others.

The above-mentioned are evaluated by the professional of neuropsychology with the objective of determine which of these functions are lost and which others must be rehabilitated.

Apart from this evaluation, the professional determines the individualized plan of intervention to carry out in coordination with the other professionals as Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, in order to recover these lost functions as much as possible.

In addition, in the last years the neuropsychology has expanded its intervention area in neurodegenerative illness as Alzheimer disease or in serious disorders in mental health.

A very out-standing field is the preventive intervention in elderly who still do not have a diagnosed pathology. We think about how to slow down the memory impairment.

The intervention is realized through different softwares specially designed for Cognitive Stimulation, in order to improve or recover lost cognitive abilities.

What is the rehabilitation based on?

The scientific basis of neuropsychological rehabilitation are based on the plasticity of the nervous system, which can modify its connections as a result of stimulation in certain areas. The neuropsychological rehabilitation would produce changes in the nervous system, creating new connections in the brain.

However, to achieve the biggest efficacy, it is very important the fact of beginning as soon as possible, after a Brain Injury.

Who can be benefited from neuropsychological rehabilitation?

Anyone. Any person with memory, attention, language, capacity of reasoning, planning, or perception problems, should go to the neuropsychologist to realize an evaluation and have a diagnosis on what it is happening in its brain. Especially when the person have suffered a Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson, Alzheimer and other dementia.

Nowadays, the figure of a neuropsychologist is getting more importance in people with light cognitive impairment.

Cristóbal Pereira Abello, Neuropsychologist in NeuroRedacer

Translation by: Patricia Rey

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