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The Expert Corner: Neurobehavioral Disorders, Self-Injury, and Treatment Options

Dr. Pritesh Parbhoo, Psy.D., State Director, NeuroRestorative Florida
Dr. Parbhoo’s academic and clinical training have been in the field of clinical and rehabilitation neuropsychology. He provides local and national CEU approved presentations, has served as an expert guest on media networks such as ESPN and “In View” by Larry King. Dr. Pahbhoo serves as a Professional Advisory Board Member for Pink Concussions. He maintains his own outpatient private practice, BrainPsych Medical.

Neurobehavioral disorders are an umbrella term that references a group of diagnoses, often with varied underlying neurological and psychological causes, manifesting primarily as various levels of behavioral dysfunction. Behavioral deficits can include singular but more often mixed presentations of verbal aggression, physical aggression, sexual disinhibition, self-injurious behavior, impaired social pragmatics, etc. The frequency and intensity of such behaviors can also vary significantly from person to person based on underlying causal factors. Ultimately, these challenges are significant barriers to personal, social, educational, and vocational success for those affected.

Neurobehavioral disorders impose a severe strain on relationships. Self-injurious behaviors can be alarming and families and other caregivers can often feel helpless and hopeless in witnessing an individual engaging in such behaviors. Forms of self-injury and frequency of expression can vary greatly. Given the increased prevalence of this issue, the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Version 5-TR, now includes codes for the classification of non-suicidal self-injury. There are both psychologically based explanations and neurological causes for self-injurious behaviors.

Therefore, conducting in-depth, individualized, and interdisciplinary assessments that delve into medical, psychological, social/support, and environmental risk factors/triggers remains imperative. In turn, this can help guide more effective person-centered and collaborative treatment interventions which often include a combination of psychotropic medications, psychotherapy/counseling, applied behavioral interventions, environmental/milieu modification, functional skills training/development, and caregiver/family education.