Promoting Mental Health After TBI

Coping with mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, is among the most important concerns identified by people living with TBI and their families. A recent study completed at the Moss Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (TMBIS), led by Dr. Tessa Hart, evaluated a treatment for depression and/or anxiety in individuals with moderate to severe TBI using the “gold standard” method for evaluating treatments—a randomized controlled trial.

The treatment in this study is based on Behavioral Activation (BA)—an intervention that focuses on increasing involvement in rewarding and pleasurable activities. Participants in the program were randomly assigned to receive either 1) a single session of BA, followed by 8 weeks of daily text messages to remind them of their individualized goals for taking part in more rewarding activities, or 2) a single session focused on the importance of motivation followed by 8 weeks of motivational text messages.

Participants in both groups showed mild improvement in their mood at the end of the program. Those in the BA condition reported more exposure to environmental reward and greater productivity. Although the benefits of both treatments were modest, the results of this study suggest that BA was effective at increasing participation in rewarding activities, and the delivery of frequent text messages was a feasible and acceptable way of supporting treatment.

The findings from this study have been published in the journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.

This article was originally published in The MossRehab Traumatic Brain Injury Model System’s Fall 2019 Edition of Brain E-News.

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