In the world of neuroscience, the word “cognitive” means how you think, reason and perceive the world around you. When the brain is damaged, from a traumatic injury, illness or stroke, often cognitive functions are interrupted and in order for the person to be able to return to some sort of normal life there is rehabilitation needed in order to retrain the brain. This rehabilitation is called “cognitive retraining” or “cognitive rehabilitation.”

  • There are two parts to cognitive rehabilitation:
  • Restoring the lost skills
  • Compensating for activities that have been impaired

Restoring skills is similar to rebuilding muscle tone, it involves exercise that will rebuild lost or impaired skills such as attention, memory, concentration, perception, organization, problem solving and judgment. They include computer programs designed specifically to interpret what we see (visual-perception), our reflexes, concentration and memory; blackboards to practice mathematical skills; workbooks and puzzles to help with math, memory, reasoning and visual perception; and strategy games. Material should not be too difficult, or too easy.

Therapists will help the patients to practice “thinking on their feet,” and simulate real-life situations like going to the grocery store or preparing a meal. They will tailor the plan to meet the needs of the patient, and increase the activity level as they go along. New activities that stimulate the brain by pushing it to do more actually creates more brain cells and strengthens the connections between the cells.

Compensating techniques in the rehabilitation involve learning to use strategies or memory tools to strengthen weaker areas of the brain. Strategies are planned to help each patient utilizes their strengths to compensate for the damaged areas. Learning these tools will not only make up and reroute weakened areas; it could actually rebuild the skill itself. For example, using a checklist may actually improve attention skills.

Through the use of memory strategies like word association, visualization, repetition, rehearsal and categorization the patient will work on their memory recall.  Attention strategies will help the person so they don’t feel out of control as they are relearning skills. It will also help them to improve attention and stay focused.

This is Ron White, memory training expert, memory keynote speaker, and two-time USA Memory Champion. With the advances in technology and cognitive rehabilitation, many people with brain injures have been able to relearn lost skills and go back to living life close to what they have before their injury. As a memory training expert myself I can attest to the changes this type of therapy can do.




American Brain Tumor Association: Congnitive Retraining:…/Cognitive_Retraining/199

Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders – Cognitive retraining:

Rainbow Rehabilitation Centers – Art-Tech-Cognitive Retraining:

Brain Therapy Center – Benefits of Cognitive Rehabilitation and Neuropsychological Rehabilitation: