Training of WM for adults with acquired brain injury

Research institution: University Hospital Linköping. Department of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine

Researchers: Anna Lundqvist PhD, Neuropsychologist; Kersti Samuelsson PhD, MScOT; Kerstin Grundström OT.

Training program used in research: Cogmed QM

Status: Ongoing

Working memory (WM) is the cognitive ability to retain limited information for a short time while one has to manipulate and use it. It is closely associated with attention and it is required for updating information and making use of it for thinking and problem-solving. Many daily activities, are dependent on the individual’s WM functioning and also rehabilitation outcome and prognosis for returning to work after acquired brain injury are dependent on a well functioning WM.

Working memory impairment is one of the most common symptoms after acquired brain injury. The difficulties are reported by the patients as impaired concentration. After completed rehabilitation programs many patients still struggle with WM deficits. Many patients are motivated to improve their WM capacity and they ask for training. From rehabilitation and also from a theoretical point of view it is important to study whether it is possible to train WM in patients whose WM impairment is essential and one of a few remaining symptoms after brain injury.

To study short- and long-term effects of computerized working memory training program (Cogmed QM) for patients suffering from working memory deficits after acquire brain injury.

Research design
A randomized, controlled experimental study.

A consecutive sample of 21 individuals with verified acquired brain injury participates in the study. Inclusion as well as exclusion criteria are established. Mean age is 43 years and time since injury/illness onset is 37 months. Focus is on WM deficits independent of specific diagnosis.

All individuals are tested with neuropsychological tests, interviewed with Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) where focus have been on WM-related activity- and participating problems, and have filled in a health related life quality questionnaire (EQ-5D) before and twenty weeks after training (long time). In addition, they are tested with neuropsychological WM tests four weeks after training (short time).

Results will be presented by (a) Cogmed QM increasing index, (b) WM neuropsychological test results (c) COPM interview outcome concerning daily activity, and participation in society, (d) QoL index.

The study will finish September 2009.