Summarized by Dr. Jessie Chan
A recent article titled, “Rehabilitation of Social Communication Skills in Patients with Acquired Brain Injury with Intensive and Standard Group Interactive Structured Treatment: A Randomized Controlled Trial” was published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation by authors Ingebresten et al. People with brain injuries often have trouble with social communication, which makes it hard for them to fit back into their community. This can lead to loneliness and difficulty with making friends or finding and keeping a job.
Past studies showed that a treatment done once a week for 3 months can help people with acquired brain injuries communicate better and feel happier in their day-to-day lives. The treatment includes group activities, help with setting personal goals, homework, and active feedback. It helps with parts of communication like understanding what other people are thinking and not saying inappropriate things. There is not a lot of information on how long or often treatments should be, so the authors did an earlier study to test how well the same treatment done every day for one month would help patients. It showed that this shortened and frequent treatment worked about as well as the original treatment.
This study compared two groups of people in Norway who had acquired traumatic or nontraumatic brain injuries. Group A got standard treatment which was once a week for 3 months in an outpatient clinic. Group B was first put on a waitlist without treatment for social communication for 9 months. This created a “no treatment” group to compare against. Group B then had intensive treatment which was every day for one month in an inpatient cognitive rehabilitation unit. This group of patients were encouraged to go home on weekends during treatment to practice their skills in real life with friends and family. The results showed that both the standard and intensive treatments helped people with brain injuries communicate better compared to no treatment. At the end of the study, Group A and Group B had equal improvements in social communication skills, even when they were retested 6 months later.
It seems that standard outpatient and intensive inpatient social communication treatment are both good options for people with acquired injuries to communicate better. One factor to think about is that intensive inpatient treatment can be harder to find, but it could be a good option for people who have fewer friends and family to practice social skills with or would have trouble getting to the outpatient clinic every week. This study shows that both kinds of treatments can help acquired brain injury patients with improving social communication, even if it has been a long time since the injury happened.
For more information read the entire article https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36966953/