Sakshi Chopra


2 Development & Standardization of a Literacy Free Cognitive Rehabilitation Program for Patients Post Traumatic Brain Injury

Authors: Sakshi Chopra, Harsimarpreet Kaur, Ashima Nehra, Sumit Sinha, Ravindra Mohan Pandey


Background: Cognitive rehabilitation aims to retrain brain injured individuals with cognitive deficits to restore or compensate lost functions. As illiterates or people with low literacy levels represent a significant proportion of the world, specific rehabilitation modules for such populations are indispensable. Literacy is significantly associated with all neuropsychological measures and retraining programs widely use written or spoken techniques which essentially require the patient to read or write. So, the aim of the study was to develop and standardize a literacy free neuropsychological rehabilitation program for improving cognitive functioning in patients with mild and moderate Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Several studies have pointed out to the impairments seen in memory, executive functioning, and attention and concentration post-TBI, so the rehabilitation program focussed on these domains. Visual item memorization, stick constructions, symbol cancellations, and colouring techniques were used to construct the retraining program. Methodology: The development of the program consisted of planning, preparing, analyzing, and revising the different modules. The construction focussed on areas of retraining immediate and delayed visual memory, planning ability, focused and divided attention, concentration, and response inhibition (to control irritability and aggression). A total of 98 home based retraining modules were prepared in the 4 domains (42 for memory, 42 for executive functioning, 7 for attention and concentration, and 7 for response inhibition). The standardization was done on 20 healthy controls to review, select and edit items. For each module, the time, errors made and errors per second were noted down, to establish the difficulty level of each module and were arranged in increasing level of difficulty over a period of 6 weeks. The retraining tasks were then administered on 11 brain injured individuals (5 after Mild TBI and 6 after Moderate TBI). These patients were referred from the Trauma Centre to Clinical Neuropsychology OPD, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India. Results: The time was taken, errors made and errors per second were analysed for all domains. Education levels were divided into illiterates, up to 10 years, 10 years to graduation and graduation and above. Mean and standard deviations were calculated. Between group and within group analysis was done using the t-test. The performance of 20 healthy controls was analyzed and only a significant difference was observed on the time taken for the attention tasks and all other domains had non-significant differences in performance between different education levels. Comparing the errors, time taken between patient and control group, there was a significant difference in all the domains at the 0.01 level except the errors made on executive functioning, indicating that the tool can successfully differentiate between healthy controls and patient groups. Conclusions: Apart from the time taken for symbol cancellations, the entire cognitive rehabilitation program is literacy free. As it taps the major areas of impairment post-TBI, it could be a useful tool to rehabilitate the patient population with low literacy levels across the world. The next step is already underway to test its efficacy in improving cognitive functioning in a randomized clinical controlled trial.

Keywords: traumatic brain injury, India, cognitive rehabilitation, illiterates

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1 Importance of Detecting Malingering Patients in Clinical Setting

Authors: Sakshi Chopra, Harsimarpreet Kaur, Ashima Nehra


Objectives: Malingering is fabricating or exaggerating the symptoms of mental or physical disorders for a variety of secondary gains or motives, which may include financial compensation; avoiding work; getting lighter criminal sentences; or simply to attract attention or sympathy. Malingering is different from somatization disorder and factitious disorder. The prevalence of malingering is unknown and difficult to determine. In an estimated study in forensic population, it can reach up to 17% cases. But the accuracy of such estimates is questionable as successful malingerers are not detected and thus, not included. Methods: The case study of a 58 years old, right handed, graduate, pre-morbidly working in a national company with reported history of stroke leading to head injury; cerebral infarction/facial palsy and dementia. He was referred for disability certification so that his job position can be transferred to his son as he could not work anymore. A series of Neuropsychological tests were administered. Results: With a mental age of < 2.5 years; social adaptive functioning was overall < 20 showing profound Mental Retardation, less than 1 year social age in abilities of self-help, eating, dressing, locomotion, occupation, communication, self-direction, and socialization; severely impaired verbal and performance ability, 96% impairment in Activities of Daily Living, with an indication of very severe depression. With inconsistent and fluctuating medical findings and problem descriptions to different health professionals forming the board for his disability, it was concluded that this patient was malingering. Conclusions: Even though it can be easily defined, malingering can be very challenging to diagnosis. Cases of malingering impose a substantial economic burden on the health care system and false attribution of malingering imposes a substantial burden of suffering on a significant proportion of the patient population. Timely, tactful diagnosis and management can help ease this patient burden on the healthcare system. Malingering can be detected by only trained mental health professionals in the clinical setting.

Keywords: Disability, India, Neuropsychological Assessment, malingering

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