Cognition includes processes such as orientation, attention, perception, problem solving, memory, judgment, language, reasoning, and planning. It is essential for taking in information, synthesizing it, and using it to affect behavior. Therefore, a cognitive deficit will have at least some impact on function.
Cognitive disorders may be caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI), infection, tumors, stroke, dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, or existing congenital conditions.
Occupational therapists are experts at determining how cognitive deficits can impact everyday activities, social interactions, and routines. Their knowledge about neurology and neuroanatomy helps them understand the impact of the brain disorder on deficits, administer appropriate tests and measures to identify the extent of functional loss, and determine the extent to which deficits are likely to be remediated or circumvented. Occupational therapists have the skills to assess the cognitive
aspects of functional activities and design an intervention plan, from acute care to community reintegration.
Occupational therapy services for cognitive impairment are provided in a number of settings.
Typically for individuals with sudden onset, such as stroke or TBI.
• Evaluation of performance ability for safety and independence in self-care activities
• Preparatory activities to facilitate balance and stability
• Family and caregiver education
• Home program may be developed, with client/caregiver training as needed.
Occupational therapy practitioners serve a vital role for adults with cognitive impairment to facilitate new brain pathways and improve functional skills through adapting activities and retraining. Enabling individuals to participate more fully in self-care, work, leisure, and community activities enhances quality of life while reducing the burden on caregivers and societal resources.