Cognitive Remediation for Post-Concussion Syndrome

After prolonged symptoms of a concussion, cognitive remediation (also called cognitive rehab or cognitive rehabilitation) is a valuable therapy to help a patient overcome these difficulties. Cognitive remediation treatment can teach long-lasting skills that help restore and maintain everyday functioning.  Research has demonstrated that cognitive remediation interventions that incorporated elements of memory, information processing, and attention led to significant improvements in a number of cognitive areas in brain-injured populations. Cognitive remediation treatment incorporates all domains of functioning: emotional, behavioral, and cognitive.

Cognitive rehabilitation is based on the principle of experience-dependent neuroplasticity, meaning that the human brain is not a static organ but can be physically changed. These changes can occur within neural pathways and synapses after exposure to enriched environments. Cognitive remediation provides such an enriched environment.   (Find out more about What We Mean By Cognitive Dysfunction.)  

What is cognitive remediation/cognitive rehabilitation?

  • Cognitive remediation is a goal-oriented and time-limited treatment geared at optimizing functioning and reintegration into daily activities.
  • Cognitive remediation incorporates psychotherapy in order to support the individual as he or she experiences emotions related to a brain injury or concussion.
  • Cognitive remediation incorporates attention-enhancing exercises that require a variety of neural networks. These attention exercises engage both visual and auditory skills, both of which are essential to many everyday tasks.  Attention and information-processing exercises are designed to enhance information retention and recall, contributing to improvements in memory. 
  • Attention, memory, and executive functions are interdependent, and impairments in these areas can impact daily functioning. Therefore, exercises that increase capacity for attention, working memory, and short-term memory will increase overall mental capacity. Such exercises also increase an individual’s awareness of the mental effort required to process information. 

Physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive changes after sustained symptoms of a concussion can be stressful, but with high-quality rehabilitation — both physical and cognitive — a patient can achieve excellent results and a good quality of life. Talk to your neurologist or your primary care provider about finding you the best provider for cognitive remediation. (Concussion and post-concussion are not neurosurgical conditions; you may be referred to a neurosurgeon if your brain injury is more severe than concussion.)

Reviewed by: Amanda Sacks-Zimmerman, PhD
Last reviewed/last updated: May 2024

Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787