Hershey, Pa. --- Researchers in Penn State's College of Medicine are using a quasi-experimental simulation to help pinpoint the problems of patients who have suffered concussions.
"The quasi-experimental simulation has been around for decades, but until we started this project, it has never been used to assess brain- injured patients," explains Siegfried Streufert, Ph.D., professor of behavioral science.
Streufert and his colleague, Usha Satish, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral science, have tested 12 patients over the past year. What they have found is that many brain-injured patients show a great lack of initiative and are unable to make decisions.
The scenario takes four hours for the patient to complete. During that period the patient makes decisions in a simulated environment which approximates the real world. "It sounds very complex, but in fact the patients have responded very well," adds Satish.
Streufert explains that this simulation test measures a number of different characteristics that are predictors of success in the real world. What is being measured is termed higher order cognitive function. Some of the factors include responsiveness, speed, initiative, emergency response, planning and strategy.
"While patients consistently lacked initiative, we realize they can
gather information at high levels and take orders very well," says Satish. She
adds that most of these patients have normal or near normal test results on
neuropsychological tests and other measures. However, most report numerous
problems holding a job and problems with personal relationships. In addition,
Satish adds that they sustain subtle executive function deficits which are hard
to measure using environmental tests. "By being able to consistently measure
what problems these brain-injured patients are having, we can tailor
rehabilitation efforts much better. This program is both time effective and cost
Contact: Leilyn Perri