Executive function improvement in response to meta-cognitive training in chronic mTBI / PTSD

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OBJECTIVE: We tested Goal Management Training (GMT), which has been recommended as an executive training protocol that may improve the deficits in the complex tasks inherent in life role participation experienced by those with chronic mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disease (mTBI/PTSD). We assessed, not only cognitive function, but also life role participation (quality of life). METHODS: We enrolled and treated 14 individuals and administered 10 GMT sessions in-person and provided the use of the Veterans Task Manager (VTM), a Smartphone App, which was designed to serve as a "practice-buddy" device to ensure translation of in-person learning to independent home and community practice of complex tasks. Pre-/post-treatment primary measure was the NIH Examiner, Unstructured Task. Secondary measures were as follows: Tower of London time to complete (cTOL), Community Reintegration of Service Members (CRIS) three subdomains [Extent of Participation; Limitations; Satisfaction of Life Role Participation (Satisfaction)]. We analyzed pre-post-treatment, -test models to explore change, and generated descriptive statistics to inspect given individual patterns of change across measures. RESULTS: There was statistically significant improvement for the NIH EXAMINER Unstructured Task ( < .02; effect size = .67) and cTOL ( < .01; effect size = .52. There was a statistically significant improvement for two CRIS subdomains: Extent of Participation ( < .01; effect size = .75; Limitations ( < .05; effect size = .59). Individuals varied in their treatment response, across measures. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: In Veterans with mTBI/PTSD in response to GMT and the VTM learning support buddy, there was significant improvement in executive cognition processes, sufficiently robust to produce significant improvement in community life role participation. The individual variations support need for precision neurorehabilitation. The positive results occurred in response to treatment advantages afforded by the content of the combined GMT and the employment of the VTM learning support buddy, with advantages including the following: manualized content of the GMT; incremental complex task difficulty; GMT structure and flexibility to incorporate individualized functional goals; and the VTM capability of ensuring translation of in-person instruction to home and community practice, solidifying newly learned executive cognitive processes. Study results support future study, including a potential randomized controlled trial, the manualized GMT and availability of the VTM to ensure future clinical deployment of treatment, as warranted.

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Frontiers in rehabilitation sciences



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