What are the Alternative Treatments for Cognitive Problems?

 Cognitive Remediation Therapy

  • For patients with milder cognitive deficits, different forms of psychotherapy may be useful in teaching the patient ways to “work around” their related problems.
  • For example, cognitive remediation therapy is a treatment that emphasizes teaching the patient ways to compensate for their memory or thinking problems.
  • In this treatment, the clinician uses information from neuropsychological testing to identify cognitive strengths that can be used to help overcome other areas of thinking that are not as strong.
  • While widely used in the treatment of cognitive problems resulting from brain injury or stroke, there has been less use of this technique in patients with AD or PD.
  • This treatment does not reverse or “cure” the cognitive disorder, but rather, the patient is taught strategies that can help with memory skills, such as organizing day-to-day tasks.
  • Depending on the severity of cognitive impairment, many patients can use these skills independently
  • In instances where the patient is more impaired, caregivers or family members can help apply these strategies.
  • This type of therapy is an important treatment option, as it gives the patient concrete strategies to help cope with their cognitive problems.
  • It also provides a supportive environment to express concerns and frustrations over changes in mental functioning.
  • Cognitive remediation therapy is usually conducted by a neuropsychologist or speech-language pathologist, who is specially trained in these techniques.
  • The major drawback of this treatment is that it works best with milder forms of cognitive deficits, as it requires insight into the patient’s own memory and thinking problems.

Behavioral Management

  • In this type of treatment, changes in the environment can be made to help minimize memory, visual-perceptual, or orientation difficulties.
  • For example, simplifying the décor of the living area to reduce excessive stimuli may help with distractibility or confusion.
  • Use of a nightlight or low-level lighting to reduce visual misperceptions and confusion at nighttime may also be beneficial.
  • Behavioral strategies can also help deal with other problems such as impulsivity, wandering, poor initiation, and problems with communication.
  • Many patients benefit from a regular routine in their day-to-day activities and feel more comfortable with a clear, structured schedule.

Want to Learn More?

Request a free copy of this NPF manual:
Mind, Mood and Memory

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What does a caregiver need to know about cognitive impairment?

Medical content reviewed by: Nina Browner, MD—Medical Director of the NPF Center of Excellence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in North Carolina and by Fernando Pagan, MD—Medical Director of the NPF Center of Excellence at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

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