What is Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy?

Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy (CRT) is the process of relearning cognitive skills that have been lost or altered as a result of damage to brain cells/chemistry. If skills cannot be relearned, then new ones have to be taught to enable the person to compensate for their lost cognitive functions. The process of CRT comprises 4 components:

  1. Education about cognitive weaknesses and strengths. The focus here is on developing awareness of the problem.
  2. Process Training. This refers to the development of skills through direct retraining or practicing the underlying cognitive skills. The focus here is on resolving the problem.
  3. Strategy Training. This involves the use of environmental, internal and external strategies. The focus here is on compensating rather than resolving the problem.
  4. Functional Activities Training. This involves the application of the other three components in everyday life. The focus here is on real life improvements.

The Brain Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group (BI-ISIG) of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine defines cognitive rehabilitation therapy to be a:

"systematic, functionally-oriented service of therapeutic cognitive activities, based on an assessment and understanding of the person's brain-behavior deficits." "Services are directed to achieve functional changes by (1) reinforcing, strengthening, or reestablishing previously learned patterns of behavior, or (2) establishing new patterns of cognitive activity or compensatory mechanisms for impaired neurological systems" (Harley, et al., 1992, p.63).

What Should I Expect in CRT?

CRT Services are directed to achieve functional changes by:

  • Reinforcing, strengthening or establishing previously learned patterns of behavior.
  • Establishing new patterns of cognitive activity or mechanisms to compensate for impaired neurological systems.
  • Interventions are tailored to help the individual be as independent as possible in the management of his or her everyday routines and responsibilities in their home and community.

You will be asked to participate in an evaluation, which will help your cognitive rehabilitation therapist to obtain and interpret to best understand your unique needs and concerns and to tailor a plan which will help you learn to use tools and strategies to be as independent as you possibly can be after your injury or illness.

You will likely participate in standardized and/or non-standardized assessments that may include questionnaires, testing, interview, and/or observation to gain the greatest understanding of your abilities and/or limitations in managing your everyday routines and responsibilities.

Your cognitive rehabilitation therapist will interpret your evaluation results and compile them into a report summarizing your strengths and difficulties. She or he will develop a treatment plan to guide all of the activities that are selected to help you remediate or compensate for your difficulties. All activities you participate in will be specially chosen for your unique needs and will be very practical in helping you to best meet the demands of your life. Your therapist will continually assess your progress and revise your goals based on your progress.

How do CRT goals help me with my life skills?
  • Aim is to enhance your functional competence in real world situations by direct retraining, compensatory strategies or cognitive tools.
  • Help individuals make most of abilities and increase self-reliance and self-confidence by providing training, resources, information and adaptive equipment.
  • Involve in experiences that require individuals to interact, analyze, question, reflect and connect what they have learned in new situations in the community.