Dr. Lucia Willadino Braga is a neuroscientist, neuropsychologist, researcher, clinician and author with over 35 years’ experience working with children, adolescents and adults with acquired brain injury. She developed and pioneered several neurorehabilitation programs, such as the Family Training Methodology, the MetaCognitive Dimension Program and is currently working on implementing a context-sensitive intervention model. She is engaged in neurorehabilitation studies with a number of European and American institutions, as well as neuroscientific research, using technology such as DTI, ERP and fMRI to explore brain function.
Dr. Braga is currently president of the SARAH Network of Rehabilitation Hospitals, a member of the SARAH Board of Governors and founder of its Neuroscience Research centers in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. She received the title of Docteur Honoris Causa from the Université de Reims (France) in 1999 and was appointed by the President of Brazil to the National Order of Scientific Merit. Dr. Braga is on several editorial boards, has published books and book chapters, as well as articles in various peer-review journals. In addition to coordinating the nine rehabilitation hospitals and one technology facility of the SARAH Network, she is also active in clinical neurorehabilitation and research activities with local and international institutions and universities.
WORLD CONGRESS PRESENTATION
Keynote Lecture: How to Help Preadolescents with TBI Develop Executive Functions to Prevent Later Behavioral Problems
Organized by the International Paediatric Brain Injury Society (IPBIS)
Traumatic brain injury in childhood or adolescence impacts a brain that is still in its developmental stages. The prefrontal lobe, responsible for the executive functions essential to self-monitoring, behavior, and self-control, is still immature and not fully myelinated during the preadolescent years. When the child has a brain injury, this prefrontal lobe development becomes an even more complex process, leading to difficulties with impulse control, aggression, social perception, and pervasive social awkwardness during adolescence and early adulthood. This session will discuss brain development during childhood and adolescence, as well as executive functions and how to develop them in interactions with preteens and teens. We also present models of intervention aimed at preventing or mitigating future behavioral problems by equipping preadolescents with executive functions, such as metacognition, that strengthen the mechanisms of self-control and self-monitoring. The rate of adherence to neurorehabilitation programs among preadolescents and adolescents is higher if the activities are conducted with peers. To this end, we will detail an intervention model that involves college students majoring in Psychology who can act as a more able peer since they have interests similar to those of the adolescents undergoing treatment. These students are trained to stimulate the teenager’s executive functions through co-constructed interactions that include playful tasks, games, and smartlabs. All of the activities are supervised by a multidisciplinary team. The program is sustainable over a longer period of time (compared to more traditional, clinically-based models) and benefits both the adolescents and the college students, who will go on to apply their training, newly acquired knowledge, and supervised clinical experience to their future professions in rehabilitation.
Evidence-based studies show that executive function-based intervention models yields significant improvement of metacognitive strategies and self-esteem.
Finally, decrease of behavioral problems, social conflicts, and criminal behavior 3 years after intervention are also discussed.