What Is Impaired Cognition?

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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2019
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Cognition refers to mental processes that involve the use of the brain as part of the daily functions of understanding, reasoning and thinking. This process is very important for the performance of daily activities relating to and stemming from the thinking process. As such, impaired cognition is used to describe a situation whereby this process has been impaired or negatively affected in some manner. The effect of this impairment is apparent in the manner in which it hampers the ability to effectively use the brain to perform its normal functions.

A cognitive impairment may be the result of an accident that involves an injury to the brain or it may be the result of some kind of disease or condition. Cognitive impairment is also the consequence of the normal processes of aging whereby the mental processes gradually start to degrade due to the general physical decline of the whole body. Sometimes impaired cognition may be caused by some sort of psychological problem that may be a response to extreme stressors in the form of trauma stemming from causes like abuse and other conditions like posttraumatic stress disorder.


In some cases, cognitive impairment may be managed through the application of therapy or through the twin management techniques of psychotherapy and psychiatric treatments that may involve the use of medication. This is only possible where the impaired cognitive processes stems from causes like trauma, which may be physical or psychological. For instance, therapy and medication may be used to manage a case of cognitive impairment that occurs as a result of mild damage to the brain as a consequence of an accident. Where this is the case, the affected individual can be gradually taught to use the mental faculties once more. An individual suffering from impaired cognition that is the consequence of abuse can be taught to overcome the factors leading to the condition through processes that may involve talk therapy to address the underlying factors that constitute the stressors, in addition to the application of psychiatric assessment and medication.

When cognitive impairment is as a consequence of the natural processes of aging, the options for the management of the condition may not be such a straightforward process. This is because cognitive impairment from aging is usually a precursor to dementia. It usually manifests itself in the form of mild cognitive impairment where the individual gradually starts to forget events. When this type of impaired cognition worsens with time, it develops into full-blown dementia, a condition that does not have any cure.


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