A review of awareness interventions in brain injury rehabilitation
Unawareness related to brain injury has implications for participation in rehabilitation, functional outcomes, and the emotional well-being of clients. Addressing disorders of awareness is an integral component of many rehabilitation programmes, and a review of the literature identified a range of awareness interventions that include holistic milieu-oriented neuropsychological programmes, psychotherapy, compensatory and facilitatory approaches, structured experiences, direct feedback, videotaped feedback, confrontational techniques, cognitive therapy, group therapy, game formats and behavioural intervention. These approaches are examined in terms of their theoretical bases and research evidence. A distinction is made between intervention approaches for unawareness due to neurocognitive factors and approaches for unawareness due to psychological factors. The socio-cultural context of unawareness is a third factor presented in a biopsychosocial framework to guide clinical decisions about awareness interventions. The ethical and methodological concerns associated with research on awareness interventions are discussed. The main considerations relate to the embedded nature of awareness interventions within rehabilitation programmes, the need for individually tailored interventions, differing responses according to the nature of unawareness, and the risk of eliciting emotional distress in some clients.