Research Reports - A randomized controlled trial of emotion recognition training after traumatic brain injury

J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2015 May-Jun;30(3)

Neumann D(1), Babbage DR, Zupan B, Willer B

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effectiveness of 2 affect recognition interventions
(Faces and Stories) in people with a traumatic brain injury.
SETTING: Postacute rehabilitation facilities.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 203 participants with moderate to severe traumatic brain
injury were screened; 71 were eligible and randomized to the Faces (n = 24),
Stories (n = 23), and Control interventions (n = 24). Participants were an
average of 39.8 years of age and 10.3 years postinjury; 74% of participants were
DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial with immediate, 3-month, and 6-month
follow-up posttests. Interventions were 9 hours of computer-based training with a
MEASURES: Diagnostic Assessment of Nonverbal Accuracy 2-Adult Faces; Emotional
Inference From Stories Test; Empathy (Interpersonal Reactivity Index); and
Irritability and Aggression (Neuropsychiatric Inventory).
RESULTS: The Faces Intervention did significantly better than the Control
Intervention on the Diagnostic Assessment of Nonverbal Accuracy 2-Adult Faces (P
= .031) posttreatment; no time effect or group interaction was observed. No other
significant differences were noted for the Faces Intervention. No significant
differences were observed between the Stories and the Control Interventions;
however, a significant time effect was found for the Emotional Inference From
Stories Test.
CONCLUSION: The Faces Intervention effectively improved facial affect recognition
in participants with chronic post-traumatic brain injury, and changes were
maintained for 6 months. Future work should focus on generalizing this skill to
functional behaviors.

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