Allenmore Psychological Associates remains OPEN. During this period of concern and anxiety having access to quality behavioral health care is important and our staff is dedicated to ensuring your behavioral health care needs are met. In the unlikely event that the WA Department of Health directs us to close we will notify patients via telephone on the day of their appointment (similar to our Snow Day policy). If you are an existing patient who is demonstrating symptoms associated with the coronavirus or impacted by related closures (e.g. cannot find day care due to a school closure) and need to cancel we ask that you inform our staff as soon as possible, APA will not charge you for a late cancellation.

Cognitive Problems

Cognitive disorders are a category of mental health disorders that primarily affect learning, memory, perception and problem solving. Amnesia, dementia, delirium and symptoms experienced after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion are examples of cognitive disorders.

What are the symptoms of cognitive disorder?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) classifies cognitive disorders as disorders with “a significant impairment of cognition or memory that represents a marked deterioration from a previous level of function.” The DSM outlines the three main types of cognitive disorders, including amnesia, dementia, and delirium.


Dementia refers to a constellation of cognitive symptoms which results from the death or permanent impairment of the cells of the brain, known as neurons. Dementia can be caused by a variety of conditions including brain trauma, stroke, vascular issues, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. See our Dementia page for more information on this topic.


Amnesia refers to impairment in memory and can be caused by concussions, traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress and alcohol or drug use. Many problems are caused by damage to the parts of the brain which are involved in memory encoding and storage.


Delirium refers to a temporary state of mental confusion that can be caused by abuse of medications, drugs, or alcohol, medical conditions, drug or alcohol withdrawals, mental illness, severe pain and sleep deprivation. Delirium presents as disorientation and confusion, typically developing with a rapid onset and fluctuating in intensity. It is more common in elderly individuals, and can involve problems with attention and concentration, behavior issues, perceptual deficits, psychotic symptoms and sleep disturbances.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Cognition refers to our abilities to think, learn and reason. Cognitive disorders often result after traumatic brain injury (TBI), and can affect more functions than just memory, as described above. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an external force, such as a physical blow, causes temporary or permanent damage to brain tissue. Changes in the brain caused by a TBI can affect physical and intellectual functioning, and particularly complex executive functioning. The executive functions of our brain involve our capacity to organize, pay attention, multitask, solve problems, plan projects and manage our time. Impairments in executive functioning lead to difficulties in attention, concentration, problem-solving and many other abilities that we rely on to function successfully in our daily life. Our executive functions are largely governed by the frontal lobes of the brain. Because the frontal lobes are located just behind the skull bones of the forehead, they are especially vulnerable in front-facing accidents, such as motor vehicle and bicycle accidents.

Of all the types of brain injuries, concussions are the most common. Concussions, which are also referred to as mild traumatic brain injuries, involve a head injury with temporary loss of brain function. They do not necessarily involve a loss of consciousness and cause a variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. Treatment involves monitoring symptoms and getting plenty of physical and cognitive rest. This means avoiding television, video games, and strenuous work. While symptoms typically resolve in about three weeks, a small percentage of those affected will develop Postconcussion Syndrome, which involves symptoms such as headaches, problems concentrating and remembering information, and emotional and behavioral problems. It is important to take concussions seriously, obtain a neurological or cognitive evaluation if symptoms persist and avoid sustaining another concussion during the healing period. Cognitive evaluations can be especially helpful for those experiencing Postconcussion Syndrome, as doctors can assess for the individual’s strengths and weaknesses and make appropriate treatment recommendations.

What can be done to help people with cognitive disorders?

Treatments for cognitive disorder depend on the cause of the disorder. Medication, psychotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy are the most common treatments. An ideal treatment plan involves first treating the underlying cause of the cognitive disorder, and second, optimizing conditions that support recovery of brain functions. This involves ensuring the patient with a cognitive disorder is receiving adequate nutrition and rest, is reducing stress levels and is managing emotional and behavioral issues. Psychotherapy for individuals with cognitive disorders can involve learning effective coping strategies and anxiety-reduction techniques to help improve cognitive and emotional functioning. Psychotherapy can also help patients improve trauma-related issues to aid in overall recovery.

Contact us for help with cognitive disorders

At Allenmore Psychological Associates, we have over three decades of experience treating a wide range of cognitive disorders. We are ideally positioned to provide assessment and treatment of cognitive disorders including Parkinson’s disease, dementia and traumatic brain injury, in Tacoma, WA. To learn more about cognitive disorders or to schedule an appointment please contact call Allenmore Psychological Associates at (253) 752-7320.

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