The current study presents a systematic review of the evidence for mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) as a form of neuropsychological rehabilitation, a holistic approach to treatment that may be particularly well suited to persons with neurological illness and injury.
Following the PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews, we included controlled trials of MBIs conducted in a neurological population, specifically employing the practice of mindfulness meditation. A search protocol for CINAHL Complete, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE with Full Text, PsycINFO, and PubMed was executed by three of the authors in September 2019 to promote reliability and obtain the initial list of abstracts (n = 32). Two authors independently reviewed and extracted data from each of the final 32 articles.
The most frequent diagnoses of interest were various forms of late-life cognitive decline and ADHD, followed by acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. Most trials assessing psychological variables found significant benefits of MBIs across various symptoms, including fatigue, self-reported cognitive function, and specific neurological symptoms. Most studies investigating cognitive and/or neural outcomes found significant benefits as well. Positive findings were evident across different patient populations.
There is promising evidence to support the application of MBIs for the amelioration of clinical-neuropsychological symptoms in the neurorehabilitation context, particularly for persons with ADHD and late-life cognitive decline. Further work is needed to clarify the importance of tailoring, as well as whether taking a transdiagnostic approach to symptoms would enhance the capacity to measure significant effects.