, Volume 114, Issue 1, pp 93-100
Date: 16 May 2013

Cognitive rehabilitation for early post-surgery inpatients affected by primary brain tumor: a randomized, controlled trial

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Cognitive impairment is one of the most common neurological disorders in neuro-oncological patients and exerts a deep negative impact on quality of life interfering with familiar, social and career-related activities. To test the effectiveness of early cognitive rehabilitation treatment for inpatients affected by primary brain tumors. Out of 109 consecutive patients enrolled in the study, 58 patients were randomly assigned to a rehabilitation group or to a control group. The rehabilitation consisted of 16 one-hour individual sessions of therapist-guided cognitive training, spread over 4 weeks, combining computer exercises and metacognitive training. Patients in the control group received usual care without cognitive training. All patients were evaluated by means of a comprehensive neuropsychological battery at the admission (T0) and after 4 weeks (T1). Patients in the rehabilitation group showed a significant improvement of cognitive functions. In particular, the domains that benefited most from the training were visual attention and verbal memory. The control group exhibited only a slightly, not statistically relevant, enhancement of cognitive performances. Cognitive rehabilitation for neuro-oncological inpatients resulted in a significant enhancement of cognitive performances after the training, also providing a foundation for early administration. Future research should be aimed to clarify the patients’ characteristics that predict neuropsychological improvement, to identify the most effective elements in rehabilitative programs and to study the effects of treatment extension to everyday life.