Abstract

Objective: The 10-week Brain Boosters Program was developed at the Phoenix VA for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mild traumatic brain injury to address subjective memory complaints. Other veterans with subjective memory complaints were invited to participate. Each session (group format) consisted of psychoeducational and experiential components and covered these topics: (1) Introduction/Overview; (2) General Health/Stress Management; (3, 4) Memory and Learning; (5) Neuroanatomy and Attention; (6) Executive Functions; (7) Sleep hygiene; (8) PTSD; (9) Emotions, Personality, and Communication; (10) Wrap-Up. We explored the impact of Brain Boosters on veterans' perceptions of their cognitive and emotional functioning, considering a subsample of veterans with diagnoses based on neuropsychological assessment. Method: This was a retrospective study using clinical data collected from 71 veterans, with neuropsychological data available for 25 veterans. Measures included: Strengths and Weaknesses (perceived memory complaints), Attention Process Training; Patient Health Questionnaire—9; Insomnia Severity Index; PTSD Symptom Checklist—Military Version. Paired samples t-tests were used to examine whether there was a significant change in each measure from pre- to post-treatment, and whether these effects were observed among individuals with and without documented cognitive impairment. Results: Veterans reported improved memory and attention and fewer symptoms of depression, insomnia, and posttraumatic stress with the intervention. Improvement in perceived memory was only observed among individuals with functional memory symptoms and not those with documented cognitive impairment. Conclusion(s): Addressing memory complaints may help address related psychiatric symptoms, and may be particularly useful in the absence of documented cognitive impairment.