Ethical Issues in Using Deception to Facilitate Rehabilitation for a Patient With Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

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Abstract

Objective:

To explore ethical issues in using deception to improve participation in a patient with severe traumatic brain injury who had not responded to traditional behavioral and pharmacologic approaches.

Design:

Case study.

Participant:

A male in inpatient neurorehabilitation with history of severe traumatic brain injury and significant behavioral disruption that limited his therapy participation.

Methods:

Behavior modification program using principles of operant conditioning that required deception.

Results:

Participation in therapies significantly improved and disruptive behaviors decreased.

Conclusion:

When used cautiously and with careful consideration of the ethical implications, deception may be permissible as part of an intervention strategy with this population but only as a last resort.

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