Neurological conditions like stroke and traumatic brain injury can have a profound impact on how we feel, think, and remember. These problems can reverberate deeply in the everyday life of a patient with such a condition: disrupting their relationships with loved ones, interrupting their ability to function at home and work, and even eroding their foundational sense of self-worth and well-being. For problems like these, neurologists frequently refer patients for specialized therapy called “cognitive rehabilitation”.
Cognitive rehabilitation takes advantage of the brain’s plasticity, or innate ability to form new pathways as a result of repetitive training. Dr. Couvadelli, a neuropsychologist with training in brain-behavior relationships, understands how brain injury affects the ability to learn and remember, and uses strategies designed to tap the brain’s power of plasticity. She will tailor her approach to patients’ unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses. For example, someone with compromised verbal abilities, but retained visual learning, will have a different course of therapy than someone with the opposite pattern.
The first step in this process is a neuropsychological evaluation. Cognitive domains such as attention, memory, and executive function (the ability to ignore distractors and prioritize important goals) form the backbone of our mental abilities, and Dr. Couvadelli uses special tests to measure them. The result is a deep understanding of the weaknesses patients face, and the strengths they can draw on to surmount them. Then, Dr. Couvadelli will work with them to select exercises, like memory retraining and attention strengthening, that will address their particular cognitive deficits. She will also map out a specialized approach for incorporating these exercises into their daily routine, whether at home, work, or school.
Like any exercise program, the results of cognitive rehabilitation depend on patients’ willingness to repeat the exercises even when it is frustrating. Dr. Couvadelli is familiar with roadblocks to achievement during this process. She counsels patients on relaxation techniques to deal with emotional stress, and helps them celebrate goals and achievements. The goal of cognitive rehabilitation is to improve mental function in everyday life, in a way that matters for them. Dr. Couvadelli understands the importance of self-esteem and self-celebration in this process and acts as a guide and a mentor during their recovery.
Cognitive Rehabilitation can be used for the remediation of disorders such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), ADHD, Executive Functioning and Pragmatic Language Issues and other neurological conditions.