Effects of Computerized Cognitive Rehabilitation on Ugandan Pediatric Cerebral Malarial Survivors

Cerebral malaria is an especially severe form of malaria that affects 575,000 African children under the age of 5. Many of the survivors suffer long-term cognitive and behavioral impairments. Bangirana et al. (2009) tested the effects of computerized cognitive training on the neuropsychological and behavioral functioning of Ugandan children who had survived cerebral malaria. Children (mean age = 10 years) were randomly assigned to receive 8 weeks of training or no training. The training package was Captain’s Log software, which provided 15 brain training exercises. Before and after the training period, the children were assessed with a variety of cognitive tests. CBCLs were completed by parents or surrogates. The intervention group improved significantly more than the control group on 3 of the 6 cognitive measures and on the CBCL Internalizing scale. The other 3 cognitive measures and the CBCL Externalizing and Total Problems scales showed nonsignificantly better outcomes for the intervention than the control group. The authors concluded that “computerized cognitive rehabilitation training interventions for children with cerebral malaria can improve short-term neuropsychological test performance and behavior almost 4 years after the illness” (p. 317).

Reference: Bangirana, P., Giordani, B., John, C.C., Page, C., Opoka, R.O., & Boivin, M.J. (2009). Immediate neuropsychological and behavioral benefits of computerized cognitive rehabilitation in Ugandan pediatric cerebral malaria survivors. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 30, 310-318.