Brain training is based on the premise that mental stimulation can improve neuroplasticity. This is the brain’s ability to form and reorganize connections between brain cells in response to new tasks.
While some studies have failed to find a link between brain training and improved cognitive functioning, other research has found the opposite.
A study published in PLOS One in 2013, for example, found that young adults who engaged in brain training games demonstrated improvements in brain processing speed, working memory, and executive functions.
It is not only young adults who might benefit from brain training. Research presented at the 2016 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference found that older adults who took part in ten 1-hour brain training sessions over a 5-week period were 48 percent less likely to develop cognitive decline or dementia over 10 years.
Such studies have fueled the development of hundreds of brain training apps, many of which claim to improve cognitive functions such as learning, memory, and concentration. With so many to choose from, however, how do you know which one is best for you?
Medical News Today have tried and tested five of the best brain training apps available to help you make an informed decision.
Considered by many as the “original” brain training app, Lumosity is used by more than 85 million people across the globe. The app consists of more than 50 colorful and fun minigames designed to train five cognitive functions: speed, memory, attention, flexibility, and problem-solving.
Lumosity’s games have been created with the help of more than 100 researchers from around the world. Furthermore, their website cites a study of more than 4,700 adults that found that brain training with Lumosity improved cognition more than crosswords.
With this in mind, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the app for ourselves.
At sign-up, you are required to complete a “fit test,” which calibrates your speed, attention, and memory through three separate games.
Once the games are complete, users are shown how their results compare with those of other users in the same age group. This provides insight into the areas of cognition that require the most attention.
Each day going forward, Lumosity sends a reminder to complete a brain “workout.” The daily brain workout involves playing three minigames – five with the premium version – each focusing on the five cognitive functions.
One game we enjoyed was Train of Thought, which focuses on attention. In this game, the user must change the direction of train tracks, with the aim of guiding different colored trains to the correct home. We found that this game really challenged our concentration – although it could be frustrating at times.
Luminosity is an app that could easily appeal to both children and adults. Many of the games – such as Highway Hazards, a driving game that involves moving left or right to avoid road hazards – have a child-like appeal.
While Elevate has fewer users than Lumosity, at 10 million downloads worldwide, it holds the title of iPhone’s best app of the year for 2014. So what makes it stand out?
The app consists of more than 40 minigames designed to boost math and speaking skills, as well as improve memory, attention, and processing speed.
Just like Lumosity, Elevate encourages daily brain training, which involves the completion of three games, or five games with the “PRO” version.
Elevate has more of an adult feel than many of the other brain training apps; the minigames take a more serious approach, focusing less on colorful illustrations and more on text. Each game also comes with a brief description of its goal, such as “stop mixing up commonly confused words” and “improve your reading comprehension.”
One game we enjoyed was Error Avoidance, whereby the user is required to “keep” or “swap” two words in a passage of text within a set time. For example: “He fashioned the cookie doe into the shape of a grazing dough.” In this case, the two words would be swapped.
Elevate provides a daily, weekly, and monthly rundown of overall performance, as well as performance in five specific areas: writing, listening, speaking, reading, and math. If you’re feeling competitive, you have the option of comparing your performance with that of other users in the same age group.
Rated by Google as one of the best Android apps for 2016, Peak offers more than 30 minigames to help improve concentration, memory, mental agility, language, and problem-solving.
Like Lumosity, there are a number of games that may appeal to children and adults alike. One such game is Turtle Traffic – a mental agility game that requires the user to navigate a turtle through the sea and collect jellyfish.
Based on performance in baseline tests, a personalized workout plan is provided, although the user is not limited to this plan. In the “Pro” version, all games are available to play at any time.
The Peak creators recommend brain training for 3 days per week. One great feature of Peak is that you can select the days that you want to train and set reminders for these days.
Cognitive performance is also very easy to track. Not only does the app provide information on individual game performance, but it also provides data on overall performance in each of the five cognitive functions. Similar to the other brain training apps, you are also able to compare performance with other users.
Fit Brains is a creation of Rosetta Stone – an education technology software company best known for their online language courses.
What sets Fit Brains part from other brain training apps, however, is that it also targets emotional intelligence through games that focus on social skills, social awareness, self-awareness, and self-control.
One game we enjoyed at MNT was Speedy Sorts – a game that tests thinking speed by asking the user to arrange objects into the correct piles as quickly as possible.
Based on the results of each game played, the user is provided with a score out of 200 for each cognitive area. The app also compares individual results with those of other users.
Unlike many other brain training apps, Fit Brains also has a school edition – a brain training package that aims to boost the cognitive functions of schoolchildren.
CogniFit is perhaps the most advanced brain training app we reviewed, consisting of a variety of minigames designed to train more than 20 cognitive skills, including short-term memory, planning, hand-eye coordination, and auditory perception.
The CogniFit developers are keen to point out that all of their brain training tools have been validated by scientists – including researchers from the University of Washington and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Furthermore, they state that the efficacy of their tools has been established through general population studies.
MNT tested the brain training games for consumers, and we found them to be a good balance of fun and mental stimulation.
One game we enjoyed was Reaction Field, which tests response time, visual scanning, and inhibition – which is the ability to control impulsive behavior. This game is similar to Whac-a-Mole; the user is required to remember the color of a mole and tap on moles of the same color as they pop up from holes in the ground.
Individual cognitive performance is assessed using the Lumosity Performance Index, which is calculated using the average scores of all games played. Like the other brain training apps, you can also compare your performance against that of other users.
“Apps tell you how you’ve done …. you want to do better. Not scary.” (Stroke Patient)
“Excellent, user-friendly website ….reliable assessment, description and app reviews… would recommend” (Charles Brain Injury Therapist)
This post was written by Andrew Atkinson from www.mobilitysmart.cc.
Using a wheelchair or mobility scooter can mean that certain places and activities are off-limits.
The world is not designed for people on wheels. Many with disabilities, including the elderly, find themselves restricted in their day-to-day lives.
Technology can help. As well as specific gadgets and devices, users of wheelchairs and scooters can get a lot from iPads and Android tablets.
Here are five of the best apps for people with limited mobility. Why not add an iPad holder to your electric or manual wheelchair, then check out these five applications to add to your device?
Perhaps the most useful app that you can add to your device.
Wheelmap categorises buildings and public spaces as fully accessible, partially accessible or not accessible, so that you can see where your wheelchair will fit.
This is an app for everyone to get involved with. Many places are still categorised as unknown, so any user can contribute for the benefit of others.
In some towns and cities, Wheelmap is an extremely valuable and detailed resource. In others, it has the potential to be a wheelchair-user’s best digital friend.
Whilst Wheelmap covers buildings, venues and public spaces, Wheelmate focuses specifically on life’s little practicalities – wheelchair accessible toilets and parking spaces.
The premise is much the same, though the aim is different. Wheelmate also includes mention of which car parks are free, and which you’ll need to pay for.
Navigating the world often requires two hands.
Install Skype to your device, clip it to your wheelchair or mobility scooter and talk to friends and family on the go.
Skype’s video call functionality makes it incredibly easy to have phonecalls whilst in your local supermarket. Which flavour pasta sauce did your husband ask for, again?
For long-distance travel, Uber is a valuable app.
Uber taxis come in all shapes and sizes. You can book one at the touch of a button.
What’s more, you can specifically look for wheelchair accessible vehicles!
You don’t even need cash when you book your taxi. The service offers cashless payment, which is ideal if you’re stuck and need a little help getting home.
The Tecla Access product is designed to make your smartphone or tablet completely hands-free. It’s ideal if you need to be occupied controlling your wheels, rather than controlling your phone.
Tecla is designed for mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs, and it does require the purchase of additional equipment. But, once it’s set up, you can use motions like blinking and blowing, and can also use the controls on your wheelchair or scooter, to access every feature on your usually-handheld device.
With the right app combination, you can use Tecla Access to control every aspect of your home as well. This means that it’s easy to develop a smart home that is more accessible than ever before.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2016
In 2016, there is a great need to explore faster and more effective methods of activating relief efforts. These apps can help keep you and your family safe in the event of an emergency. If you, or someone you know, has a disability which will make escaping a disaster situation not easy, it is imperative to plan ahead and give yourself enough time.
Disaster Alert by the Pacific Disaster Centre provides mobile access to multi-hazard monitoring of and early warning for “active hazards” aroudn the globe.
Features simple step-by-step instructions that guide you through everyday first aid scenarios.
The app allows you to quickly browse through the different countries included in the overview while providing easy access to more in-depth sectoral analysis and baseline information.
The Humanitarian Kiosk created by the United Nations provides a range of up-to-the-minute humanitarian related information from emergencies around the world.
Real Time Warning offers alerts about disasters around the world. Users select an event to see its location, damage, severity, and rumble radius on a world map.
Earthquake Alert offers information about earthquakes with a magnitude of 1.0 and up in the US and magnitude of 4.0 and up from anywhere else in the world.
With SIrenGPS you can contact the emergency services with the tap of the button and it instantly gives them your exact location and personal details.
By simply pushing the red panic buton, this app will send your GPS coordinates and a link to Google Maps by SMS or email to previously specified contact list.
Life 360 allows you and your family to set up a private network, then with a click of a button, you can let yourr family where you are and if you’re safe.
Guardly enables you to receive emergency and operational alerts from your company or company’s security team in the event of an emergency at work.
In the event of an emergency:
News.abs-cbn.com/ Lifestyle/ 07/ 17/ 15/ 7-mobile-apps-can-help-during-natural-disasters
Source: Nature’s Water Ltd.
In order to provide patients with portable and user-friendly device, this paper develops human-machine interaction rehabilitation software based on Android system, including the user interactive layer, data access layer, virtual reality rehabilitation training layer, and individual rehabilitation layer. The software can control robot through Bluetooth and real-time display the parameters of rehabilitation in the chart collected from the control system. The software also can use virtual reality technology to build virtual environment which is playing the piano by a finger to induce patients to take rehabilitation training, and this could improve patients’ rehabilitation results.
This application allows you to search for exercises appropriate for people with spinal cord injuries and other neurological conditions. It is a very handy reference for physiotherapists and other professionals.
Over 600 exercises are available with over 1000 images.
You can search by condition, exercise type, body part, equipment available and age category.
You can can select exercises and save them to up to five different slots for future reference.
The application does not require an online connection to run. It is fully self contained.
This application is free, and we plan on including other languages soon. If you have ideas for more exercises, please contact us.
More functionality is available on our webpage http://www.physiotherapyexercises.com
Developed for the physiotherapists of the Department of Health, Sydney – NSW Australia.
Almost every day, we hear of new mobile device applications (“apps”) developed for just about everything — from staying organized to finding pharmacies or restaurants while on the road. It’s hard to keep up.
The BrainLine team sorted through many resources to compile this list of apps for mobile devices for people with a brain injury, their families and caregivers.
Some of these apps have proven to be especially helpful for people with brain injury. The phone can be used to remind you of an upcoming appointment or to take medication, or it can be used like a traditional paper notebook to keep all your addresses, telephone numbers, calendar items, lists, and ideas. Please note that BrainLine does not endorse these or any specific products.
It may look like a child’s memory game or the next addictive iPad app, but the brain games presented on “Constant Therapy” are much more than they appear.
The app, developed at Boston University, is the latest tool to try to treat patients with traumatic brain injury.
“Constant Therapy provides a mobile solution that is cloud-based that allows people to improve their brain function and learning after an event such as a stroke or a traumatic brain injury,” said CEO Veera Anantha.
Anantha teamed up with his wife, Swathi Kiran, a speech, language and hearing sciences professor at Boston University, to develop testing and therapies for patients that go beyond the doctor’s office.
“Even individuals who are chronically brain-injured, where most patients are told that their brain is not going to recover, they’ve hit a plateau, and we have been telling them, ‘No, that’s not true, your brain can improve,'” explained Kiran.
“Our brains are plastic, and people can get better – even years after an event or incident,” said Anantha.
They say one of the biggest benefits of Constant Therapy is that clinicians can not only study the data produced by the app to see if their patients are improving, but specifically how they’re improving.
“I think we’ll get to a point where we’ll have so much data here that we’ll understand what makes people learn information differently and how you can use that learning style to help them get better in their own way,” said Kiran.
The app is already available on iPads and it’s launching on Android tablets this week.
There is a free trial so you can test it out.
The app costs $19.99 per month, or is available in one year or three year subscriptions.
In honor of Veterans Day, Constant Therapy is offering a scholarship for free subscriptions for veterans in need.
Patients with the frozen shoulder condition that limits their arm movement should seek rehabilitation assistance from a medical facility. The normal process is for the patients to travel from their home to a hospital or a medical center to see a physiotherapist. Such potentially cumbersome effort may reduce their motivation and determination to seek proper treatment. Our approach is to use a single smartphone with accelerometer, magnetic field, and gyroscope sensors to provide the necessary monitoring measurements to enable effective tele-rehabilitation. This work proposes a framework for such a system and has successful developed prototype based on the Android platform. Also, there are many different smartphones in the market. Therefore, we evaluated performance of three different smartphones, which are Samsung Google Nexus S, Samsung Galaxy Note 1, and Sony Xperia Z Ultra. According to the experimentation, we have shown that smartphones with the appropriate sensors are suitable for tele-rehabilitation. Also, a newer generation model would provide more precise measurements, as expected.
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