Foundations of Cognitive Impairments: Attention Examinations and Interventions

presented by Karen L. McCulloch

Accreditation Check:

This course is part of a series on cognitive impairments seen in neurologic conditions. The purpose of this course is to review attention-related issues that are relevant to physical therapists and other allied health professionals. In particular, this course covers dual-task examination options and describes activities that challenge attention as a component of PT intervention.

Meet Your Instructor

  • Karen L. McCulloch, PT, PhD, MS, NCS

    Karen L. McCulloch, PhD, PT, MS, NCS, is a Professor in Physical Therapy in the Division of Physical Therapy, Department of Allied Health Sciences, School of Medicine at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, where she has taught entry-level and advanced-level students in neurorehabilitation since 1993. She has served in multiple roles within the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, including the inaugural Director of Education, and has been honored with the Service to the Section Award and the APTA Lucy Blair Service Award. Karen has cared about individuals with traumatic brain injury since beginning as a PT in clinical practice, extending from moderate to severe brain injury to a recent focus on concussion. Her research has focused on developing outcome measures and interventions to improve active movement, balance, and functional mobility, with the aim to improve quality of life. She developed the Arm Motor Ability Test (for upper limb recovery following stroke) and the Walking and Remembering Test (for dual-task performance in older adults and individuals with acquired brain injury). She served as an ORISE Fellow with the Army Office of the Surgeon General, addressing TBI issues that affect individuals in military service. Her current research efforts are focused on wounded warriors with mild traumatic brain injury as part of a team that developed the Assessment of Military Multitask Performance, a test battery of challenging dual- and multi-task activities. She is currently leading a group writing a clinical practice guideline for physical therapy management of concussion, and is involved in intervention studies that address treatment for sports and military concussion. Funding support for her research has come from the Foundation for Physical Therapy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, National Football League, and Department of Defense.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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  1. Dual-Task Examination Options

    1. Dual-Task Examination Options

    This chapter covers the common examination to identify attention problems in a dual-task assessment. A case example is provided to show a patient with a stroke performing dual-task activities.

  2. Intervention Incorporating Attention Deficits

    2. Intervention Incorporating Attention Deficits

    In this chapter, we explore whether attention can be improved by providing appropriate challenges. Environmental and task manipulation are discussed as well as dual and multitask training.