Cognitive remediation of attention deficits following acquired brain injury: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Sohaib Virk, Tracey Williams*, Ruth Brunsdon, Flora Suh, Angie Morrow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Attention deficits are common after acquired brain injury (ABI) and adversely impact academic, vocational and social outcomes. The role of cognitive interventions in post-ABI attention rehabilitation remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate effectiveness of cognitive interventions in treating attention deficits following ABI and to explore differences in treatment effect between ABI etiologies.

METHODS: MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and CENTRAL databases were searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Studies were selected by three reviewers. Study quality was assessed using Cochrane Collaboration tool for RCTs. Effect sizes (Hedge's g) for each attentional domain were meta-analyzed with subgroup analysis by ABI etiology.

RESULTS: Twelve RCTs with 584 participants were included, representing individuals with stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and CNS-impacting malignancy. Cognitive rehabilitation improved divided attention in stroke survivors (g 0.67; 95% confidence interval, 0.35-0.98; p <  0.0001) but not other ABI populations. Sustained, selective and alternating attention, and inhibition were not significantly improved in any ABI population. Follow-up data showed no evidence of long-term benefit.

CONCLUSION: Cognitive rehabilitation resulted in short-term improvements in divided attention following stroke, but not after TBI or CNS-impacting malignancy. Cognitive interventions did not significantly improve other attentional domains in participants with stroke, TBI or CNS-impacting malignancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-377
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Acquired brain injury
  • attention
  • cognitive rehabilitation
  • meta-analysis
  • systematic review


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