Spectating Based Cognitive Therapy with Brain Injury

Stories of Spectating Based Cognitive Therapy

The following are stories of real life survivors of brain injury.  Clicking on the titles will take you to their actual story.

Kevin – An Island of High Functioning in a Sea of Severe Brain Injury

Yet, despite clear cognitive challenges, his brain shows relatively intact memory, thinking and processing capacity when applied to spectating sports. While sports is often dismissed as purely recreational or trivial activity, Kevin’s case
demonstrates, as our story of Doug before him, that there is something in the love of sports, that pushes an injured brain in a way that traditional therapies do not.

Kevin – Spectator Memory – A Different Cognitive Profile

There were times in our interview that Kevin’s disability seemed quite significant. His memory, his speech, his insight were often impaired. Yet, that perception was significantly altered when I got him talking about his interests as a fan, of his two favorite Chicagosports teams. This phenomenon also showed up in my interviews of Doug, at http://tbivoices.com/doug5.php However, the contrast between other areas and his demonstrated capacity to recall and think about sports was far more marked with Kevin than it was in the Doug interview. Why did I choose to include so much of this conversation about sports, seemingly having little to do with brain injury? First, because Kevin showed considerable memory and  analytical skills in his recollection of both a game the day before, a game two months prior and a game a full year prior to our interview, than he did in general. Second, Kevin’s interview sparked an idea which has been germinating for me in some form for more than 35 years. I would like to see research into and the development of “spectating based cognitive therapy” or (SBCT) techniques, the use of a survivor’s intense interest in sport (or other activities) to break through difficult cognitive rehabilitation logs jams.

Kevin – Spectating Based Cognitive Therapy

The term sport cognitive therapy” apparently has never been used in this context. A search of such terms on Google found primarily references to “sports psychology” the field of using psychological therapies and interventions to help athletes perform better. The term “spectating based cognitive therapy” or (“SBCT”) is my own 2011, Attorney Gordon Johnson. Part of the problem in locating research on this may come from the lack of emphasis on the fan side of the  sports equation. Almost all of the focus is on the performance of the athletes, not the cognition of the fans about their favorite sport. No where is that more clear than with Kevin. And if the only value that sports brought to Kevin’s life was that it enhanced the quality of his life, that would be enough. But the more I reflect on this interview, the more convinced I am that Spectating Based Cognitive Therapy could be used not only with Kevin but particularly with anyone who had   significant premorbid interest in sports. While sports therapy would likely benefit more men than women, the number of women who are serious sports fans continues to grow. Further, sports cognitive therapy could become a great asset in TBI.

Kevin – Writing Everything Down and Staying Positive

As I conclude the Kevin story, I reflect not just on thinking positive, but on the basis for optimism that the recreational activities of music and sports have made for TBI Voices people. In this story I have strongly advocated for a new type of therapy, Spectating Based Cognitive Therapy or SBCT. Constructing a research model to test that theory wouldn’t be difficult, but without a funding source, SBCT or other recreational therapies, will make little difference to improve the quality of survivor’s life.

Quinn – Leisure Activities have Changed After TBI

While this promising concept of using sports spectating would likely only work with someone like Kevin who had a “fans” interest in his teams prior to injury, the concept of SBCT with those who aren’t sports fans, if they had areas of interest in other types of spectating. The key to the reading research is “high interest”. While the difference between Quinn’s general memory and his “spectating” memory was not as marked as Kevin’s, it is clear that such technique would probably offer  great options for Quinn as well. If nothing else, it would keep him cognitively challenged while he tries to find something economically productive he can do.

Quinn – Appreciation for His Wife Enhanced

In regard to his amazing memory when it cam to sports spectating:Do you have that type of cognitive capacity, that kind of cognitive achievement in other areas?: “I don’t know. I mean, I want to say love for my wife, love for my family is, to me has been enhanced. I thank her every day for what she’s done for me, for being a rock, for, you know, me putting her through hell, for not, just one stupid strap on my helmet wasn’t on right and I put her through a year and a half of hell. She has been there for me through sickness and in health, and I never thought that line would ever mean anything, and it is, she’s been unbelievable.”