Therapeutic focus areas
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Neurological and neurodegenerative impairments and diseases
Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the United States, striking 800,000 people a year. But there is good news: More people survive stroke today, and advanced therapies can minimize stroke’s effects. When treated with individualized therapies and goal-oriented programs, the effects of stroke can be overcome. When brain cells die during a stroke, the person loses abilities controlled by the affected area of the brain – anything from memory to speech, executive functions, and vision to movement.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a hit or jolt to the head or body harms the brain. TBI can be mild, moderate or severe. A more serious TBI can cause long-term challenges or death. TBI can cause a wide range of changes that affect thinking, sensation, language, emotions, and physical abilities. Comprehensive, customized rehabilitation options enable survivors to overcome their challenges and reclaim their lives. An estimated 1.5 million Americans suffer TBIs each year, and more than 5 million people currently live with a TBI-related disability in the United States.
A concussion is the mildest form of TBI. It is the most common but least serious type of brain injury. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks cells in parts of the central nervous system – particularly the brain and spine – causing them to work less efficiently, or not at all.
MS can produce motor, sensory, and cognitive symptoms, as well as significant fatigue. Motor symptoms can include weakness or numbness/tingling in parts of the body. Sensory symptoms can include loss of vision or blurred vision. Cognitive symptoms include slowed thinking speed, difficulties paying attention, reduced recent memory, word finding, and trouble with problem solving. Visuospatial skills can be affected at times too. Emotional symptoms can also occur.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It’s characterized by problems with memory, language, thinking or judgment. Mild cognitive impairment may increase the risk of later developing dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological conditions.
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning – thinking, remembering, and reasoning — to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.
Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60-70% of cases.
Treatment of patients with mild dementia should include strong encouragement to remain physically, socially and mentally active. Proper and timely diagnosis can minimize the dysfunction that accompanies cognitive loss.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of individuals across the country. While most individuals recover from the virus completely within a few weeks, many experience lasting effects of the virus for months.
For those experiencing persistent symptoms – whether following a prolonged hospital stay or recovery at home – rehabilitation may be beneficial in managing physical, cognitive and emotional deficits following recovery of the virus.
For individuals who have suffered a COVID-19-related stroke or neurologic injury, speech therapy can help improve communication and language skills. Speech therapy can treat cognitive symptoms such as impaired word retrieval, attention, and memory deficits associated with COVID-related neurologic syndromes.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is associated with cognitive impairments, learning difficulties and reduced social participation. Individual assessment is necessary for individually tailored interventions. With the right set of cognitive therapies and interventions, a child can learn to work within his or her limits, which in turn extends his or her ability to function.
Chemo brain is a common term used by cancer survivors to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur during and after cancer treatment. Chemo brain can also be called chemo fog, cancer-related cognitive impairment or cognitive dysfunction. Signs and symptoms of chemo brain may include the following: Confusion, Difficulty concentrating, Difficulty finding the right word, Difficulty learning new skills, Difficulty multitasking, Short attention span, Short-term memory problems, Taking longer than usual to complete routine tasks, Trouble with verbal memory, such as remembering a conversation, Trouble with visual memory, such as recalling an image or list of words. Computer-aided cognitive training helps to strengthen cognitive abilities of people who have cognitive symptoms derived from chemotherapy.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. ADHD is often first identified in school-aged children when it leads to disruption in the classroom. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors, or be overly active.
ADHD can last into adulthood. Some adults have ADHD but have never been diagnosed. The symptoms can cause difficulty at work, at home, or with relationships. Symptoms may look different at older ages, for example, hyperactivity may appear as extreme restlessness. Symptoms can become more severe when the demands of adulthood increase.
Deficits in cognitive function – ranging from decreased attention and working memory to disrupted social cognition and language – are common in psychiatric disorders.
Computer-aided cognitive remediation therapy was found to improve and correct cognitive performance and real-life functioning.
Psychiatric disorders are associated with complex and disease specific patterns of cognitive impairment. Certain cognitive impairments can be improved, rectified or compensated. A brief overview of the main characteristics of cognitive impairment in psychiatric disorders are displayed in this table.
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