Cognitive Rehabilitation of Memory Problems in Patients with Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes a person to experience seizures. The experience of a seizure or constant seizures can result in the development of cognitive deficits. One common area of cognition that epilepsy patients struggle with is memory. While memory improvement may not always be possible with this patient group, they can learn effective strategies such as using mnemonics to help them retain information better. In this blog post, we discuss cognitive rehabilitation of memory problems in patients with epilepsy.

Understanding Memory Problems in Epilepsy Patients

20-50% of patients with epilepsy report experiencing memory problems. Common memory problems epilepsy patients experience are forgetting where objects are placed, not remembering an experience or story, and forgetting the names of people they meet. These memory difficulties may vary in degree, as a person’s age, age of onset, cause, kinds of seizures experienced, and whether they have localized epilepsy or if it occurs throughout the whole brain impact the severity of cognitive impairment. Patients with epilepsy will often undergo neuropsychological evaluation, and may also perform neuropsychological assessments to determine whether they experience hyperactivity in one part or throughout their whole brain.

Cognitive Rehabilitation for Epilepsy Patients

Cognitive rehabilitation for epilepsy patients involves addressing the personality characteristics, the physical environment of the client, the psychological responses of the client, and the client’s expectations of therapy. For epilepsy patients, therapists may spend more time on helping their client learn effective strategies to help them. 

In selecting areas of memory to work on, it is important that therapists address areas that are meaningful to the client and their goals. Common kinds of memory clients with epilepsy may work on with a therapist include verbal memory and prospective memory. Clients with epilepsy often report difficulty in remembering information from articles or books they have read, conversations that they have had with other people, and forgetting social or scheduled plans that they have made. Therapists may have their clients perform exercises that work on the skills needed to be able to effectively accomplish these kinds of daily tasks.

How Should These Memory Problems Be Trained?

Therapists find that compensatory approaches are most effective in addressing memory concerns of clients with epilepsy. Some strategies therapists may employ with their clients are using visualization techniques, mnemonic devices, and using external reminders. Therapists may also work with clients on modifying their environments, such as helping them keep track of food items in their pantry by organizing their pantry shelves according to meal times. For retention of read information, therapists may train clients to preview material, ask questions, review the material, repeat the information they have read, and test themselves on the reading.

Nonetheless, therapists will work with clients on identifying treatment goals and helping their clients learn effective strategies to help them meet their therapeutic goals and improve their everyday functioning.

If you are looking to train memory in your client’s with epilepsy, you may want to consider using a digital cognitive therapy tool, like HappyNeuron Pro. HappyNeuron Pro offers a variety of memory exercises that you are able to use with your client’s with memory problems. Some HappyNeuron Pro exercises you can use to help your client’s with epilepsy work on their memory skills are Heraldry, N-Back, Around the World in 80 Trips, and Chunking. 

Conclusion

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that results in a person experiencing seizures. This condition can be caused from developmental disorders, neurological injury, or from experiencing other medical events. People living with epilepsy often have cognitive complaints, particularly in regards to memory. Therapists working with epilepsy clients focus more on helping their clients learn strategies to compensate for their experienced memory complications rather than helping them improve memory as a whole. When therapists work on memory strategies with their clients with epilepsy, they should ensure that the techniques and work they are doing is relevant to a client’s treatment goals and desires, as this will help make the work being done more meaningful and useful for the client. Therapists may work with clients on strategy development, practice of relevant memory exercises, psychoeducation, environment modification, and psychoregulation techniques to help them address their memory concerns. 

Sources: Ponds, R. W., & Hendriks, M. (2006). Cognitive rehabilitation of memory problems in patients with epilepsy. Seizure, 15(4), 267-273.
Margaret Davis

Margaret Davis is a junior studying advertising at Temple University. She is thrilled to be joining the HappyNeuron Pro team as the Content Marketing Intern. With her previous experience working on PR and Social Media campaigns, Margaret hopes to bring a variety of skills to the team.

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