for people ages 65 years and up (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by Erica S. Kornblith, PhD
Headshot of Erica S. Kornblith
Erica S. Kornblith



This study will use technology to deliver effective treatment for cognitive problems associated with TBI to Veterans at home, which may result in improved daily functioning and increased access to health care for the growing population of aging Veterans with history of TBI. The successful completion of this project may also increase older Veterans' ability to participate in research through increased understanding of the effect of in-home research opportunities on recruitment and retention. Additionally, the evidence gathered from this study may be used in future research studying home-based cognitive rehabilitation treatments for Veterans using telehealth technology.

Official Title

Rehabilitation of Executive Function in Aging Veterans With History of TBI


The goal of this project is to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of using technology to implement home-based executive function training for aging Veterans with history of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Background: Problems with attention and executive control are some of the most common sequelae of TBI, and these areas of cognition are also known to be vulnerable to aging. Goal Oriented Attentional Self-Regulation (GOALS) is a manualized cognitive training intervention for problems with attention and executive control that has been shown to improve cognitive, emotional, and functional outcomes in civilians and Veterans with history of TBI, including Veterans 65 and older, and healthy older adults.

Relevance and significance to Veteran's health: TBI is prevalent among Veterans. Home-based telehealth (HBT) may be an effective tool to address lack of access to health care for aging Veterans.

Aim 1: Complete adaptation of the IP-GOALS protocol for a) HBT use and b) use with older Veterans via collection of feedback from [n=8] Veterans 65+ with history of TBI and cognitive complaints. Aim 2: Examine the feasibility (defined as recruitment yield, dropout after randomization, retention, and adherence) and participant-rated acceptability of [IP and] HBT-GOALS in n=36 Veterans 65+ with history of TBI and cognitive complaints. Hypothesis 2: Feasibility will be demonstrated by achieving targeted recruitment goals with reasonable rates of dropout after randomization, retention, and adherence, and high levels of participant-rated acceptability in both groups. Aim 3: Estimate effect sizes for [HBT-GOALS and IP-GOALS using a double-baseline control] on improving a) cognitive performance and self-reported b) emotional regulation and c) daily functioning in the same Aim 2 study cohort to inform sample size requirements for a future clinical trial. Hypothesis 3: Effect size estimates will provide evidence of clinically meaningful improvement on a) cognitive functioning (Attention and Executive Function Composite), b) emotional regulation (Profile of Mood States Total Mood Disturbance Score), and c) daily functioning outcomes (Mayo-Portland Adaptability Inventory Total Score). Exploratory analysis a) will examine whether Veteran characteristics (e.g., age, sex, family/caregiver support, distance to nearest clinic, and health/mobility issues including chronic pain) are associated with differences in participant-rated acceptability and feasibility (i.e., recruitment yield, dropout after randomization, retention and adherence), and [response to IP/HBT-GOALS vs. double baseline control.] Exploratory analysis b) will examine distribution of responses to select criteria to define responders in future studies.

Methods: Adaptation phase (Aim 1): Adaptation of the existing GOALS protocol for a) HBT use and b) use with older Veterans will be completed by collecting post-training feasibility and acceptability data. Pilot phase (Aims 2 and 3 and Exploratory Analyses): Feasibility, acceptability, cognitive, emotional, and daily functioning data will be collected from n=36 Veterans 65 or older before (baseline and delay baseline) and after participation in GOALS training delivered in person (IP) or via HBT. Veterans will be randomly assigned to IP or HBT. Outcome measures include participant-rated acceptability; feasibility (i.e., recruitment yield, dropout after randomization, retention, and adherence); standardized and validated measures of neurocognitive functioning; self-report of symptoms of depression, PTSD, mood disturbance, and daily functioning.

Innovation: The proposed study is the first to investigate implementation of an established cognitive rehabilitation intervention for use with aging Veterans with history of TBI and delivery via in-home videoconferencing technology.

Implications: This research may promote improved daily functioning for aging Veterans with history of TBI through rehabilitation of executive function, and increase access to such treatment.


Brain Injuries, Traumatic, Executive Dysfunction, Veterans, Rehabilitation, Cognitive training, Telehealth, Brain Injuries, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Home-based telehealth GOALS, In-person GOALS


You can join if…

Open to people ages 65 years and up

  • Veterans aged 65 or older with history of chronic TBI (>6 months post-injury) --sustained either during military service
    • including in combat
    • or as a civilian
  • Self-reported cognitive complaints [1 moderate or severe cognitive symptom(s) on the Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory (NSI [58]) that interfere(s) with daily function]
  • Endorsement of comfort and familiarity with technology and/or the possession of a personal computer, or other HBT-compatible device
    • i.e., tablet, or smartphone
  • Per the investigators' preliminary patient survey, approximately 75% of the target population has access to a personal computer
    • Participants who do not endorse comfort/familiarity with technology may be eligible to participate if they can identify a family member or other caregiver who is consistently present and willing to assist with connecting to study sessions
  • A limited number of VA-issued tablets will be available for use by participants who do not have access to a personal computer or other HBT-compatible device

You CAN'T join if...

Moderate-severe objective cognitive impairment, as measured by score <20 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA [59-61]), that interferes with daily functioning (i.e., Major Neurocognitive Disorder)

  • Unstable medical, neurologic, or psychiatric conditions precluding participation in research activities
  • Other reasons for being unable or unwilling to participate in study procedures
  • Ongoing illicit or prescription drug (Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview Version 7.0.2 (MINI) [79] or alcohol abuse (Alcohol Use Disorders Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C) [62]>8)
  • Active psychosis
  • Poor English comprehension


  • San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94121-1563 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSF

  • Erica S. Kornblith, PhD
    Dr. Kornblith is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist and clinical researcher based at SFVAMC with expertise in traumatic brain injury (TBI) and cognitive aging, rehabilitation research, telehealth, and clinical trials.


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
VA Office of Research and Development
Study Type
Expecting 36 study participants
Last Updated