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Practical Applications for Cognitive Impairment

Learn strategies and interventions to maximize attention and new learning, and generally improve therapeutic outcomes in individuals with cognitive impairment.

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Practical Applications for Cognitive Impairment

About this Certificate Program

Working with individuals with cognitively impairment requires an additional set of skills, strategies, and interventions. This certificate program will provide an understanding of fundamental characteristics of cognitive impairment and the impact on behavior. We will explore how to overcome some of the barriers associated with cognitive impairment. Many of the strategies may be used during therapy sessions to increase focus and attention. Other strategies will be associated with longer-term interventions to improve cognition and learning new compensatory strategies, while other approaches are designed to maximize client motivation so they more fully engage the therapeutic process.

Target Audience

This series is designed for physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, nurses, and long-term care administrators working in hospitals, private practice, long-term care, skilled nursing facilities, and home care.

Goals & Objectives

  • Recall which types of memory will be impaired first and last with most types of dementia.
  • Modify how feedback and instructions are given to patients based on working memory capacity and cognitive ability.
  • Articulate interventions that can be used to enhance a patient’s interest, attention, and ability to encode new declarative memories.
  • Administer cognitive rehabilitation interventions that exercise attention, word finding, and spatial abilities.
  • Explain how to maximize motivation by using interventions that focus on self-efficacy and outcomes.
  • 2 Courses

    Section 1: Neuropsychology of Cognition and Aging

      1. Chapter 1 bullet Factors Affecting Cognitive Abilities in Older Adulthood

        Recent research has shown us that many factors affect our cognitive abilities and chance of developing dementia in older adulthood. It is important to understand these factors and possible causal mechanisms in order to develop interventions, suggest lifestyle changes, and consider the etiology of cognitive impairment.

      2. Chapter 2 bullet Reserve Hypothesis: A Possible Explanation for Use It Or Lose It Findings

        Most people have heard of the Use It Or Lose It Theory, but that idea is rarely discussed in the scientific literature. In this chapter, we will discuss a compatible idea known as the Reserve Hypothesis. The Reserve Hypothesis is a superior idea because it provides an explanation for data supporting Use It Or Lose It. These are important concepts as they help provide a foundation to understand the basis of cognitive rehabilitation and the etiology and course of most types of cognitive impairment.

      3. Chapter 3 bullet Dementia Prevalence vs. Incidence

        Recent research has shown that while the incidence of dementia is increasing in Western Europe and North America, the prevalence is actually plummeting. Appreciating these ideas and their causes leads to a much more nuanced understanding of the underlying causes of dementia and interventions that could decrease symptoms of cognitive impairment.

      4. Chapter 4 bullet The Importance of Executive Functioning in Cognitive Rehabilitation Estimated Length

        An understanding of how executive functioning affects cognitive abilities and mobility. Controlling unwanted behaviors is critical, especially for people who work with cognitively impaired individuals. We will discuss executive functioning so therapists and other professionals can maximize the efficacy of therapeutic outcomes.

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      1. Chapter 1 bullet How and Why We Successfully Encode New Memories

        In order to understand why we sometimes fail to make new memories, we must explore how we successfully make them. A classic memory study that launched modern memory research and understanding will be explored in an effort to build foundational knowledge that can be used to customize interventions. Making new memories requires rehearsal and attention, requirements that can be targeted.

      2. Chapter 2 bullet Don’t Overwhelm Clients’ Working Memory

        It is easy to overwhelm clients’ working memory, especially if they are experiencing cognitive impairment. It is important to understand the limits of working memory and other cognitive resources, in an effort to maximize therapeutic outcomes. We will explore how instructions and feedback need to be altered when working with cognitively impaired individuals.

      3. Chapter 3 bullet Three Memory Processes

        The three memory processes are explored, as all memory failures are a failure of one of those processes. First, we encode new memories. Second, we store them over time. Third, we retrieve previously encoded memories. Any memory failure is a failure of one those three processes. Being aware of the above not only help us understand why memory failures might be occurring but also suggest possible intervention approaches.

      4. Chapter 4 bullet Three Types of Memory

        There are three types of memories and two classes of memories. It is important to understand how these types and classes of memories are affected by dementia and cognitive impairment. Choosing the best intervention often requires knowledge a client’s ability to make each of these types of memories.

      5. Chapter 5 bullet Taking Advantage of Intact Procedural Memories

        One of the three types of memories, procedural memory, can be made in most clients who have dementia. Often this ability is the only way to help more cognitively impaired clients learn new behaviors and compensatory strategies. Thus, the possibilities and limitations of making new procedural memories, including looking at a client’s approach to tasks and assessing their sequencing in Activities of Daily Living, will be examined.

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  • 3 Courses

    Section 2: Practical Interventions for Maximizing Outcomes

      1. Chapter 1 bullet Executive Functioning is Key

        The idea that encoding new memories is based on rehearsal is not complete. In order to maximize cognitive ability, executive functioning in general and attention in particular must be maximized. The importance of these principles is demonstrated, and strategies are introduced that therapists and other professionals can use to maximize attention, in the moment, even without long-term cognitive rehabilitation. Common challenges experienced when people lose inhibitory abilities are also discussed.

      2. Chapter 2 bullet Retention Testing

        Testing clients has a number of positive benefits, including focusing clients on the to-be-remembered information and giving them rehearsal trials. We will discuss how to take advantage of retention testing, in an effort to help people make new declarative memories and learn new compensatory strategies.

      3. Chapter 3 bullet The Generation Effect

        Another empirically supported strategy to enhance executive functioning and attention is the Generation Effect. The Generation Effect refers to an enhanced ability to remember ideas, information, or compensatory strategies that one actively figured out versus having the information passively presented. Visualization and the use of signs are also explained in this chapter.

      4. Chapter 4 bullet Putting It All Together and Getting Help from Caregivers

        Caregivers can either impede therapeutic progress by doing things for their clients that the clients are able to do, or caregivers might impede learning by supporting behaviors in a different sequence than the therapist was trying to do. Clients can get additional rehearsal trials by explaining to their caregivers how they need to perform a certain task. We will discuss how a quick conversation with a caregiver can improve therapeutic outcomes.

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      1. Chapter 1 bullet Foundational Principles of Cognitive Rehabilitation

        An important goal of cognitive rehabilitation is to achieve benefits that generalize or transfer beyond the trained task. We will discuss what works, what doesn’t work, and why. Cognitive rehabilitation dosing recommendations and ideas to maximize therapeutic outcomes are also examined.

      2. Chapter 2 bullet Who, What, When, and Where

        In an attempt to maximize therapeutic outcomes, we will discuss who can assist in delivering cognitive stimulation interventions, who can benefit from those interventions, how much to do in a session, and difference in delivery modalities based on the environment.

      3. Chapter 3 bullet Executive Functioning Exercises

        We will explore a wide range of cognitive rehabilitation exercises designed to exercise executive functioning. Interventions designed to exercise selective attention, sustained attention, inhibition, and theory of mind are explained.

      4. Chapter 4 bullet Spatial, Word Finding and Language Exercises

        A wide range of cognitive rehabilitation materials designed to exercise spatial and language abilities are presented in this chapter. Mental rotation, expressive language interventions, word finding, and inhibition of language abilities are discussed.

      5. Chapter 5 bullet Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, and Technology

        We will discuss options for individual and group cognitive rehabilitation. Using caregivers and volunteers in various rehabilitation settings is also discussed. In addition, home exercise interventions will be explored. Options for using tablets and computers to deliver cognitive rehabilitation programs are considered. Many available options will be explored. Some of the available products have the advantage of adjusting difficulty level, based on recent or previous performance.

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      1. Chapter 1 bullet Depression in Older Adulthood

        It is a myth that all older adults are at increased risk of depression. Risk factors for geriatric depression and common treatment options are explored in this chapter, along with the effects of depression on cognitive abilities.

      2. Chapter 2 bullet Bandura’s Motivational Theory

        Motivation is highly correlated with ultimate therapeutic outcomes. We will explore one of the most useful theories of motivation and introduce how therapists and other professionals can use it to develop short-term motivation strategies that help to improve clients’ beliefs that they can do the necessary work. The idea that clients need to be aware of the benefits of doing specific therapeutic exercises is introduced. One of the best predictors of a client’s success is their self-efficacy, or their belief that they can do something and attain a desired outcome. We will discuss the concept of self-efficacy and ways to improve a client’s self-efficacy for therapy.

      3. Chapter 3 bullet Outcome Expectations (What’s in it for Me)

        Whether or not someone is willing to do some behavior is, in part, determined by their knowledge of the benefits of doing that behavior. We will discuss how to connect the therapy exercises to functional goals and outcomes that the client wants. Strategies for how therapists and other professionals can better explain why exercises are being prescribed are provided. There are other tools that professionals can use to maximize motivation. They can point out the consequences for not engaging in therapy. Practitioners can also benefit from asking clients to report the frequency and duration of home exercises. Caregivers can also be used to maximize motivation and therapeutic outcomes.

      4. Chapter 4 bullet Behavioral Management Strategies: Executive Functioning Enhancement

        Unfortunately, people with dementia and traumatic brain injuries often engage in behaviors that can negatively affect their quality of life. Caregivers and staff members are often unsure how to handle unwanted and challenging behaviors. In this chapter, we will look at how executive functioning mediates behavior and use that to develop intervention strategies so people can better inhibit unwanted behavior.

      5. Chapter 5 bullet Behavioral Management Strategies: Retrogenesis and Redirecting

        Often times people with more advanced cognitive impairment will be living in the past and have even lost more recent memories. We will discuss these phenomena and how this process usually abides by the principles of retrogenesis. We will then discuss interventions designed to redirect attention by taking advantage of what the person remembers and comprehends. The goal will be to reduce unwanted behavior and the need for pharmaceutical interventions.

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Instructors CEU Approved

9 total hours* of accredited coursework.
MedBridge accredits each course individually so you can earn CEUs as you progress.

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      Our clinic could not be happier with MedBridge.

Amy Lee, MPT, OCS
Physical Therapy Central


         MedBridge has allowed us to create a culture of learning that we were previously unable to attain with traditional coursework.

Zach Steele, PT, DPT, OCS
Outpatient Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Services


MedBridge has created a cost-
effective and quality platform that is the future of online education.

Grant R. Koster, PT, ATC, FACHE
Vice President of Clinical Operations, Athletico Physical Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I get CEU credit?
Each course is individually accredited. Please check each course for your state and discipline. You can receive CEU credit after each course is completed.
Do I have to complete the courses in order?
It is not required that you complete the courses in order. Each Certificate Program's content is built to be completed sequentially but it is not forced to be completed this way.
When do I get my certificate?
You will receive accredited certificates of completion for each course as you complete them. Once you have completed the entire Certificate Program you will receive your certificate for the program.
How long do I have access to the Certificate Program?
You will have access to this Certificate Program for as long as you are a subscriber. Your initial subscription will last for one year from the date you purchase.
*Accreditation Hours
Each course is individually accredited and exact hours will vary by state and discipline. Check each course for specific accreditation for your license.
Subscribe Now This Certificate Program and so much more are all included in the MedBridge subscription.