Searching for effective components of cognitive rehabilitation for children and adolescents with acquired brain injury: A systematic review

Christine Resch, Stefanie Rosema, Petra Hurks, Arend de Kloet, Caroline van Heugten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


AIM: Cognitive rehabilitation is of interest after paediatric acquired brain injury (ABI). The present systematic review examined studies investigating cognitive rehabilitation interventions for children with ABI, while focusing on identifying effective components. Components were categorized as (1) metacognition and/or strategy use, (2) (computerized) drill-based exercises, and (3) external aids.

METHODS: The databases PubMed (including MEDLINE), PsycInfo, and CINAHL were searched until 22nd June 2017. Additionally, studies were identified through cross-referencing and by consulting experts in the field.

RESULTS: A total of 20 articles describing 19 studies were included. Metacognition/strategy use trainings (five studies) mainly improved psychosocial functioning. Drill-based interventions (six studies) improved performance on tasks similar to training tasks. Interventions combining these two components (six studies) benefited cognitive and psychosocial functioning. External aids (two studies) improved everyday memory. No studies combined external aids with drill-based interventions or all three components.

CONCLUSION: Available evidence suggests that multi-component rehabilitation, e.g. combining metacognition/strategy use and drill-based training is most promising, as it can lead to improvements in both cognitive and psychosocial functioning of children with ABI. Intervention setting and duration may play a role. Conclusions remain tentative due to small sample sizes of included studies heterogeneity regarding outcome measures, intervention and therapist variables, and patient characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-692
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Journal Article

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