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May 8, 1987

Cognitive Rehabilitation Aims to Improve or Replace Memory Functions in Survivors of Head Injury

JAMA. 1987;257(18):2400-2402. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390180018004

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WHERE MEDICINE leaves off in the treatment of the growing number of head-injury survivors, cognitive rehabilitation picks up.

Many cognitive rehabilitation specialists say that because the field is in its infancy, no one is yet sure how much it can achieve or how many can be helped. Most of the specific methods still need to be evaluated, they add. Some neurologists tend to have what they call a "healthy" skepticism of both the theories and many of the programs.

But recent work suggests that it may help a few head-injured persons—who otherwise might spend their days frustrated and making no progress, totally reliant on institutions and loved ones— return to functional, if not productive, lives.

Motor vehicle accidents cause far and away the majority of severe head and/or brain injuries. Not surprisingly, two thirds of victims are young males, 15 to 25 years of age. The typical scenario, according to