When the brain needs rehabilitation
Problems in basic brain functions can be highly debilitating, and get worse over time – here’s how rehabilitation can help slow the effects. 63-year-old Mr. Lai was struggling with some memory problems. He walked into a specialist centre for a neurological assessment. To his relief, his results were declared normal. Two years later, Mr. Lai left his job, and handed over payment of the bills to his children because he kept forgetting to make the payments himself. He could no longer drive on his own, as he kept getting lost. He was then diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Lydia Abdul Latif, Chief Medical Officer at ReGen Rehabilitation International (ReGen Rehab), offers a clarification. “Neurocognitive disorder refers to a spectrum of disorders that can impact a person’s cognitive functions. They can range from less severe cases, such as mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or extend to more debilitating degrees such as major neurocognitive disorder, which is another name for dementia.”
- Neurocognitive issues affect functions such as:
- Judgment (e.g. impulse control; decision-making)
- Learning (retaining new information)
They can come as a result of tumours, infection, or genetics. Others may be caused by brain injury.
A person is more at risk of developing neurocognitive problems if they are over 60, have substance abuse problems, or play sports that involve possible head trauma such as rugby.
There is no cure for cognitive disorders stemming from permanent medical conditions; however, their effects can be slowed through rehabilitation.
“There are many symptoms of cognitive impairments,” says Dr. Lydia. “Besides the obvious ones like memory and attention problems, they can sometimes manifest as impulsive behaviour, depression, anxiety and apathy.”
- Diagnosing neurological disorders:
- Brain imaging: cranial CT and MRI scans
- Electroencephalogram (EEG): Measures the brain’s electrical activity
- Assessment: Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test (which President Donald Trump recently passed, to the surprise of his critics)
- Assessment: The clock-drawing test
“There is a lack of awareness about cognitive rehabilitation amongst the general public,”says Dr. Judy Ranka, Director and Principal Occupational Therapist from Sydney, Australia, “as well as the techniques that can, and should, be used to target these dysfunctions. Cognitive rehabilitation is the key to treating any sort of abnormality pertaining to brain function.”
- Know what symptoms to look out for,
- Know what assessments to do,
- And seek rehabilitative treatment as early as possible.
ReGen Rehabilitation Malaysia is a private specialty hospital company dedicated to the provision of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation medicine and care to patients in Malaysia and the ASEAN region. It is located in Petaling Jaya.
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