Dr. Blanco Campal,
Dr Alberto Blanco-Campal (Clinical Neuropsychologist)
BSc, MSc (Behavioural. Neurology and Cognitive Neuropsychology), D. Psych. Sc. (Clinical Psychology)., C.Psychol.PsSI.
Dr A. Blanco-Campal is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the School of Psychology in University College Dublin (UCD) with a special interest in the neuropsychology of concussion or mild traumatic brain injury. He previously worked as a Clinical Neuropsychologist in Headway Ireland (Brain Injury Services & Support) and the National Rehabilitation Hospital (Dún Laoghaire) providing neuropsychological evaluation, psychological and cognitive rehabilitation treatment to patients with traumatic brain injuries and strokes.
He specialises in the neuropsychological evaluation and the psychotherapeutic management of the psychological and emotional symptoms (e.g. anxiety, depression and irritability) that may develop following a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury using cognitive-behaviour therapy strategies.
He also specialises in the cognitive rehabilitation and management of the cognitive symptoms associated with acquired brain injury including attention, memory and executive functions. He has ample experience in medico-legal neuropsychological evaluations and the provision of expert testimony in cases of mild traumatic brain injury. He provides Adult Neuropsychological Services for the Memory Clinic at the Mater University Hospital and the Dublin Neurological Institute.
How can a Clinical Neuropsychologist help following a Mild Traumatic Brain injury or Concussion?
A Clinical Neuropsychologist is a psychologist that specialises in the study of the relationships that exist between brain function and behaviour, including thinking-based skills (e.g. attention, memory, planning, problem-solving, etc.).
A mild traumatic brain injury or concussion, is a relatively common injury, typically occurring after a direct or indirect blow to the head or the body during sports, a car accident or a fall, causing an alteration in the person’s mental state (e.g. feeling dazed, disoriented, confused) or a relatively brief loss of consciousness (<30 minutes). In the early aftermath of this type of injury, people commonly report a constellation of symptoms including physical (e.g. headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep disturbances) cognitive (e.g. day-to-day memory problems, distractibility, slowed thinking, difficulties finding words) and emotional (e.g. anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, irritability). Most people experience a resolution of these symptoms in a relatively short period of time, ranging from days to weeks. However, in some cases, symptoms may persist for 3 to 6 months or even longer, developing what is known as a Persistent Post-Concussion Syndrome.
If you are one of these cases, you may have received contradictory explanations from clinicians regarding the degree to which your symptoms are caused by the neurological brain-injury or to other non-brain injury factors including psychological and emotional distress. This may be the source of confusion, uncertainty, frustration and stress for you. Regardless of the precise cause of these symptoms they are very real and distressing for you. They may be limiting your level of functioning in many aspects of your life and therefore they need to be effectively managed.
A clinical neuropsychologist will be able to provide you with practical, science-based and patient-focused psycho-education and strategies to help you cope more effectively with the cognitive, emotional and physical difficulties you may experience.
This will be carried out using two complementary approaches. The first is using the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy, which is a therapeutic approach that looks at the ways in which your thoughts, emotions, actions and physical reactions relate to each other. The second is cognitive rehabilitation strategies, which aims at helping you understand and manage the changes in your cognitive skills (i.e. thinking-based difficulties) using a series of external aids and compensatory strategies to help you get around the day-to-day thinking-based difficulties you may experience.
Every concussion or mild traumatic brain injury is different and every person’s response style to it is unique. Therefore, the main objective of the initial clinical evaluation is to jointly elaborate a detailed and personalized explanation of your specific difficulties that is agreed upon between you and your clinician before the treatment commences. This is a like a road-map of your persistent difficulties which will assist in the identification of possible unhelpful or ‘vicious cycles’ that may be perpetuating or worsening your symptoms so that these can be reduced and ‘virtuous cycles’ increased. For example, a person may worry about not being able to cope at work, which may lead to feeling stressed causing a reduction in thinking capacity, leading to over-focusing on minor memory lapses and resulting in feelings and thoughts of being a failure, which in turn may lead to further distress and avoidance.
This work may, in some cases, need to be undertaken in parallel with a detailed objective neurocognitive evaluation to explore your individual strengths and needs in terms of your cognitive or thinking-based skills.
The initial evaluation may take 2 sessions to complete after which a detailed feedback and psycho-education regarding these findings and treatment recommendations is provided. An episode of psychological intervention typically involves 8 to 10 sessions to complete.
After treatment you may completely overcome your persisting post-concussion symptoms and eventually achieve a total sense of normality or at least optimize your level of functioning, even if some symptoms may persist.