The problems that follow an encephalitic illness are varied and can be complex.  For instance, difficulty with communication could have an underlying physical problem with poor control of the muscles used in speech, or there could be a cognitive problem with understanding and interpreting what is heard or with finding the right words to respond.  If memory problems have occurred it is not unusual for the person to be emotionally distressed and even clinically depressed which can also impact on communication. All these underlying factors need to be teased out in order to develop a suitable recovery programme with appropriate specialists.

Neuropsychologists are trained in understanding how an insult to the brain can affect a person’s behaviour, intellect, memory and emotions. They can assess which problems are organic (due to the illness) and which are an emotional response to the illness and its effects.  A Neuropsychological assessment will provide a detailed report that can be used to decide programmes and strategies.  Sometimes, neuropsychological assessments are used to help plan return to work or school, apply for special resources or to assist in the medical management of problems.

Research articles and Papers

Rehabilitation following anti-NMDA encephalitis.  Abstract Background: Anti-NMDA (N-methyl D-Aspartate) encephalitis is an autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system which presents acutely with seizures, disturbances in consciousness and behavioural change. Although there is an increasing amount of information about thediagnosis and acute treatment strategies, little is known about rehabilitation needs and outcomes for this patient group. Case report: This study presents a 52-year old woman who initially presented with generalized seizures and drowsiness. She was admitted to hospital where autoimmuneencephalitis was diagnosed based on a positive serum anti-NMDA antibody titre. When medically stabilized, she was transferred to a specialist neurorehabilitation unit for ongoing care. Her main clinical issues were around behavioural disturbance, communication, continence, mobility and cognition. A multi-disciplinary approach was taken to her problems and she was eventually discharged back to community living having made substantial improvements in all domains of functioning. The clinical challenges encountered throughout her rehabilitation and the approach to ameliorating these is described. Conclusion: Although having a relatively rare diagnosis, the specific rehabilitation needs of this patient were met through an existing specialist neurorehabilitation service. A broader case series is required to determine needs and effective approaches across this patient group as a whole.