Almost 10 years ago, in his 2001 National Academy of Neuropsychology presidential address, Dr. Ronald Ruff offered a “friendly critique of neuropsychology” (still an excellent and motivating read for neuropsychologists, seeRuff, 2003). Among his visions for the future of neuropsychology was a hope that neuropsychologists would be more engaged in providing practical recommendations and treatment for patients with neurocognitive disorders, rather than continuing as a strictly diagnostic discipline. Since Dr. Ruff's presidential address, increasing numbers of neuropsychologists have become interested in providing rehabilitative services to their patients and there has been a substantial growth in the number of books related to neuropsychological rehabilitation. Many of these books provide an outstanding overview of neuroanatomical substrates of various disease processes and reviews of the research literature regarding rehabilitation of these disorders. Few provide simple and practical guidelines for incorporating neuropsychological rehabilitation into daily practice. The goal of Rehabilitation of Neuropsychological Disorders: A Practical Guide for Rehabilitation Professionals (second edition) is to provide rehabilitation professionals, including neuropsychologists, with practical tips to improve the daily functioning of patients in a manner that is easy to communicate between rehabilitation disciplines and to the patient and their family. The second edition of this book continues to provide compensatory strategies for treating cognitive difficulties, with greater emphasis on how to easily incorporate these suggests into neuropsychological reports. The second edition also includes four chapters that help guide practitioners toward community resources that are essential to optimizing patient functioning.
Drawing on the work of rehabilitation specialists at the Rusk Rehabilitation Center, Chapters 2 through 6, begin by tackling the diverse terminology used by rehabilitation specialists to refer to similar cognitive constructs. These chapters are presented by cognitive domain with a focus on attention, memory, executive functions, visual-spatial functions, and language. One compelling aspect of these initial chapters is how quickly it becomes apparent that rehabilitation specialists are not speaking a common language with respect to the domains they strive to rehabilitate. This lack of a common taxonomy necessarily limits the extent to which professionals can easily work together to meet rehabilitation goals and communicate effectively to patients and family members. A common language for each cognitive domain is suggested, which can be used across professions and can be easily understood by patients and families. Although the suggested functional taxonomy may not be readily agreed upon, the point is made clear and serves as a reminder to those involved in rehabilitation—in order for rehabilitation professionals to work together in a smooth and efficient manner, a shared language is needed to describe cognitive disorder.
After presenting a suggested functional taxonomy, each chapter provides a solid overview of commonly employed neuropsychological measures by domain followed by simple compensatory techniques that can be used to help the patient optimize functioning. Compensatory techniques are written to allow professionals to adapt them into clinical reports based on a patient's unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Although professionals working within rehabilitation may find some of these techniques basic (e.g., minimize distracting stimuli in the environment to remediate problems with focused attention), other suggestions are more sophisticated (e.g., employing the Plan, Do, Study, Act system to improve disordered self-regulation). In addition, although many of the presented techniques are somewhat elementary, the fashion in which they are described provide an efficient tool for rehabilitation professionals to refer to when writing clinical reports and planning treatment. Neuropsychologists often possess a stronger working knowledge about the assessment and rehabilitation of attention, memory, and executive functions, and Chapters 5 and 6 present a detailed foundation of knowledge regarding the assessment and rehabilitation of visual-spatial and language disorders that will likely be of more interest to seasoned clinical neuropsychologists. An additional innovative feature of this book is reference to a website that provides easy access to a list of recommendations organized by cognitive domain, making incorporation into clinical reports and treatment plans a simple task for the busy practitioner.
The final chapters 7 through 10 fill a critical gap in the practice of many neuropsychologists. Work plays a significant role in how people identify themselves and how they are described by their families, communities, and society. Successful employment fosters financial independence while promoting social engagement and enhancing emotional well-being. For individuals with cognitive disability, the ability to maintain employment is often compromised, decreasing the opportunity for social support, mental stimulation, and improved self-esteem. It is critical for rehabilitation professionals to identify cognitive weaknesses that may impair employability and provide rehabilitative suggestions to improve the likelihood of successful occupational performance. Chapter 7 presents an overview of vocational rehabilitation, including eligibility requirements. Most importantly, Chapter 7 provides a detailed list of vocational rehabilitation agencies in all U.S. states and territories as a useful reference for professionals. Chapter 8 provides a review of social security disability and again, most useful, a list of resources to make provider referral as effortless as possible. In a similar manner, Chapter 9 presents resources for a variety of neurologic populations that serve as an easy to use reference guide. The book concludes with a chapter focused on guardianship issues, including a resource directory.
Overall, the second edition of Rehabilitation of Neuropsychological Disorders: A Practical Guide for Rehabilitation Professionals reminds the rehabilitation professional to be aware of the language they use when communicating with other rehabilitation disciplines and offers a functional taxonomy for consideration. Many of the presented compensatory rehabilitation techniques provide a helpful introduction to students or practitioners new to the concepts of neuropsychological rehabilitation, with particular benefit from chapters focusing on visual-spatial and language disorders. The adjunct online website makes it easy to incorporate these suggested techniques into clinical practice. Seasoned professionals will benefit from the newly added chapters providing easy to use resource guides for additional services critical for rehabilitation success. This book will make a fine addition to the library of the professional interested in breaking the mold of neuropsychologist as diagnostician and moving toward the future of neuropsychologist as optimizer of cognitive and emotional health.