Neuropsychological rehabilitation in the 20th century
Introduction. The first documents describing techniques and procedures to improve the cognitive functioning of people with brain injuries date back to the 17th century. Yet, governments show little interest in it and allocate scarce economic, personal and material resources, possibly because of the high mortality rate associated with brain injuries and the limited life expectancy of those who survive. It was not until the 20th century that neuropsychological rehabilitation, as it is conceived today, took its first steps.
Development. The evolution of neuropsychological rehabilitation over the last century can be structured in three periods: establishment, expansion and consolidation. The first two are closely related to the procedures developed in times of war (mainly the First and Second World Wars), and the period of consolidation is linked with the transfer of the advances made in the military field to the civilian population and the advent of digital technologies in cognitive rehabilitation.
Conclusions. The history of neuropsychological rehabilitation in the 20th century shows two major conceptual changes, linked to profound modifications in the welfare policies deployed by various Western governments. The first took place during the First World War, when, in response to the growing number of veterans with brain injuries, governments decided to set up neurorehabilitation centres. And the second occurred in the 60s and 70s, when different governments transferred and generalised the advances achieved in the military sphere to the civilian population.
Key words. 20th century history. Brain injury. Military medicine. Neuropsychology. Rehabilitation. War.