Cognition Functional Rehabilitation Activity Manual

Cognition Functional Rehabilitation Activity Manual

Barbara Messenger, M.Ed., ABDA and Niki Ziarnek, M.S., CCC-SLP/L

Brain injury rehabilitation manual with functional activities on cognition for brain injury programs and persons with disabilities. Activies on memory, attention, orientation, awareness, problem solving, communication, money management, and community safety are desgined for easy instruction and implementation. Not only for persons with brain injury, this manual can be used for persons with a wide range of developmental or neurological impairments.

Item: CFRM
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Full Description

This manual teaches a therapeutic style of interaction using a step-by-step format. Someone with little or no experience in working with persons with disabilities can pick up these manuals and immediately be able to interact in a therapeutic manner while facilitating independence.

Can be used by any caregiver including direct care staff, nurses, therapists, family, teachers, and aides. They can be used with children or adults with any type of neurological condition involving social, cognitive and behavioral challenges. Useful for inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs, community programs, residential settings, schools and at home.

This manual features worksheets and data forms for tracking performance and outcomes, with full instructions for administration. Each activity has a documentation form for easy inclusion in clinical records.

Includes over 60 activities and documentation sheets on...

  • orientation
  • attention memory
  • problem-solving
  • social interactions
  • comprehension
  • money management
  • reading
  • organization
  • community orientation
  • health awareness
  • Details
    Item CFRM
    ISBN# 1-931117-22-5
    Pages 74 pages, 8 1/2 x 11, softcover, perfect bound plus CD for worksheets.
    Year 2004


Barbara A. Messenger, M.Ed., ABDA

Ms Messenger is currently working as a Behavior Rehabilitation Therapist at the Center for Comprehensive Services (CCS), MENTOR Network, with survivors of traumatic brain injury. She is a certified disability analyst and has a federal certification in rehabilitation counseling. She has 5 years experience as a psychotherapist providing individual, group and marital counseling and 12 years experience as a vocational rehabilitation counselor providing vocational counseling, job seeking skills training, case management and expert testimony.

Niki Ziarnek, M.S., CCC, SLP/L

Ms Ziarnek is a speech-language pathologist in the Personal Intervention Program at the Center for Comprehensive Services, a residential brain injury rehabilitation facility. She has worked in the NeuroBehavioral Program for seven years, and has experience as a direct care staff, rehabilitation therapist, case manager, and most recently as a speech-language pathologist.



About The Authors


  • Conversations for Orientation
  • Review Orientation Information
  • Residence 1
  • Residence 2
  • Using a Calendar
  • Using a Clock
  • Complete Daily Schedule
  • Orientation Group


  • Deficits and Impact on Daily Activities
  • Impact of Deficits on Independence
  • Individual Strengths
  • Education of Deficits During Difficult Tasks/Activities
  • Goal Setting
  • General Health Survey
  • Healthy Lifestyle Survey
  • Tips for Better Sleeping
  • Awareness of Seizures
  • General Information about the Brain
  • Medication Survey
  • Review Medications and Medication Times
  • Tips and Strategies for Remembering Medications
  • Basic life Skills: Steps to Fix a Snack


  • Steps For Solving Problems
  • Practice Steps for Solving Problems
  • Issues and Answers
  • Attention and Memory
  • Watching Television Commercials 1
  • Watching Television Commercials 2
  • Watching Television Commercials 3
  • Watching Television Commercials 4
  • Watching Television Commercials 5
  • Watching a Television News Program
  • Card Games
  • Memory and Orientation
  • Memory Book
  • Recording Information
  • Review Daily Schedule
  • Social Interactions
  • Giving Compliments
  • Appropriate Conversation Topics
  • Problem Solving: Newspaper/Magazine Article
  • Expressing Opinions: Newspaper/Magazine Article


  • Writing: Writing a Letter
  • Reading Comprehension: Newspaper/Magazine Article
  • Listening Comprehension: Newspaper/Magazine Article
  • Functional Reading
  • Phone Book
  • Magazine
  • Newspaper

Money Management

  • Weekly Budget
  • Monthly Budget
  • Problem Solving
  • Organization
  • Making Lists
  • Create a Checklist

Community Orientation

  • Basic Community Safety Tips
  • Basic Community Safety: Problem Solving 1
  • Basic Community Safety: Problem Solving 2
  • Basic Community Safety: Problem Solving 3
  • Basic Community Orientation
  • Shopping Mall
  • Community or Student Recreation Center
  • Museum
  • Public Library
  • Post Office
6 Extra Functional Rehabilitation Activity Documentation Forms


Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy


Importance of Functional Rehabilitation

During seven years of providing brain injury rehabilitation in a residential facility in numerous capacities including direct care staff, rehabilitation therapist, case manager and speech pathologist, I learned the importance of functional rehabilitation. Functional rehabilitation involves teaching basic skills that are related to the everyday activities which are needed for individuals to become more independent with a variety of tasks. It has been my experience that direct care staff tend to view their role as one of making sure basic needs are met regardless of an individual’s participation in meeting these needs, as opposed to teachers who facilitate learning new skills. When staff or family members interact in a way that only ensures basic needs are met, without a focus on increasing independence, the opportunity for providing functional rehabilitation is lost. The individual with a disability does not learn the necessary skills to become independent because these tasks are done for the individual.

A tremendous need was realized- how do we as clinicians teach direct care staff how to provide functional therapy? The skill of knowing how to teach basic everyday activities, ones that are taken for granted by a person without a disability, in a positive therapeutic manner, is very much a learned skill. However, learning how to interact in a way that teaches others how to perform activities more independently takes experience, time, appropriate models, and a willingness to learn how to interact differently.

Step-by-Step Approach to Therapeutic Tasks The purpose of this manual is to teach this therapeutic way of interacting through the step-by-step format. This gives a caregiver, even one without models of how to interact in this teaching manner, all the tools needed to help individuals become more independent. Someone with little or no experience working with persons with disabilities can pick up this manual and immediately be able to interact in a therapeutic manner, while instantly facilitating independence. The goal is to generalize this interaction style to other areas and activities. By using this approach, direct care staff will develop an array of tools and methods for effective rehabilitation.

Functional Rehabilitation Activities are therapeutic tasks designed to facilitate an individual’s independence with activities of daily living. The activities are implemented by caregivers and consist of step-by-step instructions for teaching specific tasks. Caregiver refers to direct care staff, family, teachers, etc., who work with individuals with special needs. Throughout the manual, caregivers are referred to as “staff”. The activities are divided into four areas: cognition, behavior, activities of daily living, and leisure. Each activity targets a specific skill area and describes the task. The procedure takes the caregiver step-by-step through completion of the activity, beginning with simply asking the individual to participate in the task. Next, tasks are broken down into simple steps. One of the most important features of each activity is to provide verbal praise and positive reinforcement for the individual’s efforts regardless of accuracy or successful completion. Any form of participation should be reinforced.

Activities for all Disabilities and Settings

These activities are useful for children or adults who have experienced any type of disability. The majority of these activities provide basic everyday fundamental skills that are appropriate for habilitation or rehabilitation. This manual was initially written for use with persons with acquired brain injury. By the time it was finished, we realized that the skills taught are appropriate for adults or children with many other types of disabilities or those who simply lack skills in particular areas. Throughout this manual, the individual completing the activity is referred to as “participant”.

Many people with disabilities may not receive formal rehabilitation to the extent needed to become independent with these skills. Families are often unsure how to help their loved one become more independent. The activities included in this manual are appropriate for use in the home setting, as well as rehabilitation programs, residential programs, outpatient facilities, schools, etc.

The activities in this manual were created by conceptualizing how, as clinicians, we teach these skills. The activities are designed to be an extension of clinical therapy goals, while promoting positive quality therapeutic interactions between caregiver and the individual. The manual may be used in a variety of ways. Individuals may choose which activities to complete in a specific area or the caregiver may suggest activities that are daily activities.

I hope you find these activities useful and that through their use you are able to facilitate independence by providing functional rehabilitation through positive interactions.

Niki Ziarnek

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