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[WEB SITE] What is neurohacking and can it actually rewire your brain?

Marc Bordons / Stocksy

What is neurohacking and can it actually rewire your brain?

Although at one point, “hack” referred to a creative solution to a tech problem, the term can apply to pretty much anything now. There are kitchen hacks, productivity hacks, personal finance hacks. Brain hacks, or neurohacks, are among the buzziest, though, thanks largely to the Silicon Valley techies who often swear by them as a way to boost their cognitive function, focus, and creativity. Mic asked a neuroscientist to explain neurohacking, which neurohacking methods are especially promising, which are mostly hype, and how to make neurohacking work for you.

First things first: Neurohacking, is a broad umbrella term that encompasses anything that involves “manipulating brain function or structure to improve one’s experience of the world,” says neuroscientist Don Vaughn of Santa Clara University and the University of California, Los Angeles. Like the other myriad forms of hacking, neurohacking uses an engineering approach, treating the brain as a piece of hardware that can be systematically modified and upgraded.

Neurohacking techniques can fall under a number of categories — here are a few of the most relevant ones, as well as the thinking behind them.

Brain stimulation

This involves applying an electric or magnetic field to certain regions of the brain in non-neurotypical people to make their activity more closely resemble that seen in a neurotypical brain. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration approved transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) — a noninvasive form of brain stimulation which delivers magnetic pulses to the brain in a noninvasive manner — for major depression. Since then, the FDA has also approved TMS for pain associated with migraines with auras, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Established brain stimulation techniques (such as TMS or electroconvulsive therapy) performed by an expert provider, such as a psychiatrist or neuroscientist, are generally safe, Vaughn says.

Neurofeedback

This one involves using a device that measures brain activity, such as an electroencephalogram (EEG) or a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. People with neuropsychological disorders receive feedback on their own brain activity — often in the form of images or sound — and focus on trying to make it more closely resemble the brain activity in a healthy person, Vaughn says. This could happen through changing their thought patterns, Vaughn says. Another possibility is that the feedback itself, or the person’s thoughts about the feedback, may somehow lead to a change in their brain’s wiring.

Reducing cognitive load

This means minimizing how much apps, devices, and other tech compete for your attention. Doing so can sharpen and sustain your focus, or what Vaughn refers to as your attention quotient (AQ). To boost his AQ, Vaughn listens to brown noise, which he likens to “white noise, but deeper.” (Think the low rush of a waterfall versus pure static.) He also chews gum, which he says provides an outlet for his restless “monkey mind” while still allowing him to focus on the task at hand.

Reducing cognitive load can also deepen your connection with others. Vaughn uses Voicea, an app based on an AI assistant that takes and store notes of meetings, whether over the phone or in-person, allowing him to focus solely on the conversation, not on recording it. “If we can quell those disruptions that occur because of the way work is done these days, it will allow us to focus and be more empathic with each other,” he says.

Monitoring sleep

Tracking your sleep patterns and adjusting them accordingly. Every night, you go through around five or so stages of sleep, each one deeper than the last. “People are less groggy and make fewer errors when they wake up in a lighter stage of sleep,” Vaughn says. He uses Sleep Cycle, an app that tracks your sleep patterns based on your movements in bed to rouse you during your lightest sleep stage.

Andrey Popov / Shutterstock

Microdosing

Microdosing is the routinely consumption of teensy doses of psychedelics like LSD, ecstasy, or magic mushrooms. Many who practice microdosing follow the regimen recommended by James Fadiman, psychologist and author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys: a twentieth to a tenth of a regular dose, once every three days for about a month. While a regular dose may make you trip, a microdose has subtler effects, with some users reporting, for instance, enhanced energy and focus, per The Cut.

Nootropics

These are OTC supplements or drugs taken to enhance cognitive function. They range from everyday caffeine and vitamin B12 (B12 deficiency has been associated with cognitive decline) to prescription drugs like Ritalin and Adderall, used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, as well as Provigil (modafinil), used to treat extreme drowsiness resulting from narcolepsy and other sleep disorder. (All three of these drugs promote wakefulness.) The science behind nootropic supplements in particular remains rather murky, though.

Does neurohacking work, though?

Vaughn finds microdosing, neurostimulation, and neurofeedback especially promising for neuropsychological disorders. Although studies suggest that larger doses of psychedelics could help with disorders such as PTSD and treatment-resistant major depression, there are few studies on microdosing psychedelics. “The little science that has been done…is mixed—perhaps slightly positive,” Vaughn says. “Microdosing is promising mainly because of anecdotal evidence.” Meanwhile, neurostimulation can be used noninvasively in some cases, and TMS has already received FDA approval for a handful of conditions. Neurofeedback is not only non-invasive, but offers immediate feedback, and studies suggest it could be effective for PTSD and addiction.

But it’s important to note that just because these methods could positively alter brain function in people with neuropsychological disorders, that “doesn’t mean it’s going to take a normal system and make it superhuman,” Vaughn says. “I think there are lots of small hacks to be done that could add up to something big,” rather than huge hacks that can vastly upgrade cognitive function, a la Limitless. Thanks to millions of years of evolution, the human brain is already pretty damn optimized. “I just don’t know how much more we can tweak it to make it better,” Vaughn says.

As far as enhancements for neurotypical brains, he says that “you’ll probably see a much greater improvement” from removing distractions in your environment to reduce cognitive load than say, increasing your B12 intake — which brings us to an important disclaimer about nootropic supplements in particular. As with all supplements, they aren’t FDA-regulated, meaning that companies that sell them don’t need to provide evidence that they’re safe or effective. Vaughn recommends trying nootropics that research has shown to be safe and effective, like B12 or caffeine.

How can I start neurohacking?

As tempting as it is, adopting every neurohack under the sun is “not the answer,” Vaughn says. Remember, everyone is different. While your best friend may gush about how much her mood has improved since she began microdosing shrooms, your brain might not respond to microdosing—or maybe taking psychedelics just doesn’t align with your ethics.

Start by exploring different neurohacks, and of course, be skeptical of any product that makes outrageous claims. Since neurofeedback isn’t a common medical treatment, talk to your doctor about enrolling in academic studies on neurofeedback, or companies that offer it if you’re interested, Vaughn says. You should also talk to your doctor if you want to try brain stimulation. A doctor can prescribe you Adderall, Ritalin, or Provigil but only for their indicated medical uses, not for cognitive enhancement.

Ultimately, neurohacks are tools, Vaughn says. “You have to find the one that works for you.” If anything, taking this DIY approach to improving your brain function will leave you feeling empowered, a benefit that probably rivals anything a supplement or sleep tracking app could offer.

 

via What is neurohacking and can it actually rewire your brain?

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[WEB PAGE] Pioneering rehabilitation app helps physios track patients’ progress and prescribe exercise videos

Ascenti PhysioNow image

Independent physiotherapy provider Ascenti has launched PhysioNow, a new exercise and rehabilitation app which aims to revolutionise the way musculoskeletal injury is treated by providing patients with physiotherapy services at the touch of a button.

PhysioNow supports users throughout their journey to recovery by providing 24/7 access to expert advice through digital triage, virtual consultations and tailored exercise programmes from approved Ascenti clinicians. Users can book appointments directly through the app and try out exercises in their own home, with access to guided videos that can be downloaded and viewed at any time.

A fully integrated digital care solution, the app will benefit patients by allowing them to track their own progress and compliance with their rehabilitation programme, improve their knowledge and empowerment through education and self-management advice, and increase their confidence knowing they are following the correct exercise prescription.

PhysioNow is fully integrated with Ascenti’s bespoke patient workflow system. This means that physiotherapists can prescribe video exercises, track patient progress and adjust according to real-time patient feedback, all within the same system that supports them in all other aspects of their daily role (from writing treatment notes to accessing clinical dairies).

For patients, this means a digitally enhanced and hassle-free journey, whether their treatment is face-to-face or virtual.

Currently, a third of all musculoskeletal referrals Ascenti receives come from patients suffering with back pain. PhysioNow will enable enhanced clinical outcomes and more cost-effective care, including for common conditions such as back pain.

A beta test version of the app launched earlier this year and has been used by 1,400 patients, with 93 percent of users endorsing the app and saying that they would recommend it to friends and family.

The PhysioNow app is available to all Ascenti patients and will be accessible when they book their first physio appointment.

Additionally, the app will be available to download from the App Store for Apple iOS users and the Play Store for android devices. There will also be a web-based service that people can use at physionow.ascenti.co.uk

Stephanie Dobrikova, CEO at Ascenti, commented: “The launch of PhysioNow makes Ascenti the market leader when it comes to the provision of digitally-enabled physiotherapy and musculoskeletal (MSK) services.

“In today’s healthcare industry we are seeing more and more technological advances that are transforming patient care – improving the experience of clinicians and service users alike.

“Our Digital Health Strategy has placed us at the forefront of these advancements and our mission is to keep bringing the very best digitally enabled services to our patients and partners.”

Ascenti is a provider of physiotherapy and associated services in the UK and is a trusted partner to more than 20 NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups and 400 private businesses across the UK.

The company has over 300 highly trained clinicians delivering upwards of 52,000 treatment sessions every month.

via Pioneering rehabilitation app helps physios track patients’ progress and prescribe exercise videos – AT Today

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[WEB SITE] imHere Homepage – mHealth Platform for Self-management

IMHERE

Interactive Mobile Health and Rehabilitation

iMHere is an mHealth platform promoting clinician-guided self-care to patients with chronic diseases. Internet accessibility provides a secure bridge between patients’ smartphone applications and a web-based clinician portal, and successfully empowers patients to perform subjective self-care and preventative measures. The app was designed to send monitorial data to the portal and also receive output regarding self-care regimens as recommended by the attending clinician. The combination of interactive, real-time medical monitoring with patient control offers a powerful, unique solution for patients living with chronic illnesses where cognitive and physical disabilities present significant barriers to effective self-care.

Using a web-based portal, the clinician (typically a nurse coordinator, social worker, case manager, or patient advocate) could monitor patients’ compliance with regimens and indicate self-care plans to be delivered to the patient via the app, allowing the clinician to monitor a patient’s status and intervene as needed. Clinicians could use the portal to tailor a regimen or treatment plan for each and every patient (e.g. scheduled medication, wound care instructions, etc.) and the portal would consolidate the plan to the smartphone app in real time—an advancement over existing comparable health portals which cannot push data to the app. Results of clinical implementation suggest that the iMHere app was successful in delivering values for patients and in engaging them to comply with treatment. In the first 6 months of the clinical implementation, patients have been consistently using the app for self-management tasks and to follow the regimes set up by their respective clinicians. We observed that the daily usage increased significantly in the first two months (from approximately 1.3-times/day to over 3-times/day), and then plateau at around 3.5 times per day per patient. This pattern of increasing usage in the first two months and the subsequent plateau is relatively consistent across all patients. The app is currently available in Android platform with an iPhone version under development.

via imHere Homepage – mHealth Platform for Self-management

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[WEB SITE] Flint Rehab Introduces MiGo Wearable for Stroke Recovery

MiGo

Flint Rehab announces the launch of MiGo, a wearable activity tracker specifically designed for stroke survivors. The device makes its official debut at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

MiGo is designed to track upper extremity activity — in addition to walking — and is optimized for the movement patterns performed by individuals with stroke. The device is accompanied by a smartphone app that provides motivational support through digital coaching, progressive goal setting, and social networking with other stroke survivors, according to the company in a media release.

“Most wearable fitness trackers are designed to help people get into shape. MiGo is a new type of wearable that helps people regain their independence after a stroke,” says Dr Nizan Friedman, co-founder and CEO of Irvine, Calif-based Flint Rehab, in the release.

“Traditionally, innovation in medical technology has been limited by what insurance companies are willing to cover. As a consumer-level digital health technology, MiGo avoids these constraints, empowering stroke survivors to take their recovery into their own hands.”

A common outcome of stroke is hemiparesis, or impaired movement on one side of the body. One of the leading causes of this lifelong disability is a phenomenon called “learned non-use,” where stroke survivors neglect to use their impaired arm or leg, causing their brain to lose the ability to control those limbs altogether.

MiGo directly addresses the problem of learned non-use by motivating stroke survivors to use their impaired side as much as possible. Using deep-learning algorithms, MiGo accurately tracks how much the wearer is using their impaired side, providing them with an easy-to-understand rep count throughout the day.

MiGo also provides an intelligent activity goal that updates every day based on the wearer’s actual movement ability, ensuring every user stays continuously challenged at the level appropriate for them. Then, the device acts as the wearer’s personal cheerleader, giving them rewards and positive feedback right on their wrist as they work to hit their daily goal, the release explains.

“Suffering a stroke is a traumatic, life-changing event. Many survivors do not have the proper support network to deal with the event, and they may find it difficult to relate with friends and family who don’t understand what they are going through,” states Dan Zondervan, co-founder and vice president of Flint Rehab.

“Using the MiGo app, users can join groups to share their activity data and collaborate with other stroke survivors to achieve group goals. Group members can also share their experiences and offer encouraging support to each other — right in the app,” he adds.

For more information, visit Flint Rehab.

[Source(s0): Flint Rehab, Business Wire]

 

via Flint Rehab Introduces MiGo Wearable for Stroke Recovery – Rehab Managment

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[FREE App] Google Live Transcribe (Android): Transcribe What Anyone Is Saying – Video

Android Accessibility: Live Transcribe

Google Live Transcribe is an accessibility tool meant to make life easier for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. It automatically turns any speech into text while the person is still speaking. It’s fast enough to be used in conversations.



Android Accessibility: Live Transcribe

The text can be a black font on a white background or a white font on a black background. The top-right corner indicates whether the environment is noisy, which means people have to speak louder to be heard. And if someone speaks to you from behind, the phone vibrates to let you know. Try it out, it works surprisingly smoothly.

The app uses Google’s Cloud Speech API, so it requires an active internet connection. Google says it doesn’t store any audio on its servers, but we’d take such proclamations with a pinch of salt. Google already knows a lot about you, and they do share data with authorities.

Download: Google Live Transcribe for Android (Free)

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[REHABDATA] 20 apps for student success – National Rehabilitation Information Center

NARIC Accession Number: O21594.  What’s this? Download article in Full Text .
Author(s): O’Sullivan, Paige.
Project Number: 90RT5021 (formerly H133B130014).
Publication Year: 2017.
Number of Pages: 5.
Abstract: This list identifies software applications (apps) that may be helpful in key areas in which students with and without mental health conditions may need additional support. Some of these apps are only for use on desktops, while most are available on iPhones or Android products.
Descriptor Terms: ACCOMMODATION, ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY, COMPUTER APPLICATIONS, COMPUTER-ASSISTED INSTRUCTION, HEALTH PROMOTION, MENTAL HEALTH, PSYCHIATRIC DISABILITIES, STUDENTS, TELECOMMUNICATIONS.

Can this document be ordered through NARIC’s document delivery service*?: Y.
Get this Document: http://tucollaborative.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/20-Apps-for-Student-Success.pdf.

Citation: O’Sullivan, Paige. (2017). 20 apps for student success. Retrieved 4/19/2019, from REHABDATA database.via Articles, Books, Reports, & Multimedia: Search REHABDATA | National Rehabilitation Information Center

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[WEB SITE] Study: In-home stroke rehabilitation comparable to clinician-guided therapy

Both study groups used an app-based therapy, and required a similar number of sessions to become proficient in specific rehabilitation tasks.

Stroke patients who received in-home rehabilitation therapy from a tablet-based app had similar outcomes to those completing the same treatment with physician guidance, suggesting that the digital treatment could be effective without provider supervision, according to a paper recently published in Frontiers in Neurology.

The study’s 3,686 patients each had post-stroke aphasia affecting their speech or cognition, and were provided with the Constant Therapy app developed by The Learning Corporation (which conducted the study). The rehabilitation tool includes more than 70 different therapies targeting language and cognitive skill, and can be personalized with specific tasks that are based on the patient’s progress.

Topline data

Although both the at-home (n = 2,100) and in-clinic (n = 1,577) groups required a median three sessions to improve from a less than 60 percent accuracy rate to a greater than 90 percent rate, home users achieved proficiency in a median six days compared to clinic users’ median 12 days (p < .001).

This difference was driven by the frequency with which patients underwent the therapy, as those practicing at home engaged with the therapy significantly more often than those in the clinic (p < .001). On the other hand, clinic users did complete more items per therapy day than the home users (p < .001). The researchers observed no differences in improvement across specific age groups or time since injury.

How it was done

The researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of post-stroke aphasia patient data collected through the app from 2013 to 2017. The researchers included a number of filters to the review — for instance, limiting analysis to therapy tasks in which a patient initially struggled but eventually gained proficiency, or to therapy tasks that at least 15 patients from each group completed.

What’s the history

From virtual reality to computer vision, new in-home rehabilitation products are employing a number of different technologies to move care out of the clinic and into the home. Many of these platforms involve both a patient-facing product for independent use at home and a clinician or therapist-facing dashboard — for instance, Reflexion Health’s VERAHome and VERAClinic, both of which launched last year.

On the record

“These insights from real world patient experience could help update existing guidelines, and highlight areas for future study to uncover how improvements in specific tasks can help people living post-stroke regain the skills they cherish, such as reading a newspaper, having a complete conversation, or ordering from a menu at a restaurant,” Veera Anantha, CTO of The Learning Corporation, said in a statement.

via Study: In-home stroke rehabilitation comparable to clinician-guided therapy | MobiHealthNews

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[Assistive technology] Top 10 apps for disabled people

Top 10 apps for disabled people

Top 10 apps for disabled people

We all like to live as independently as possible, and for disabled people, technology and apps are an invaluable aid to achieving this. It seems that everyone nowadays owns a smartphone and tablet, and with that comes a seemingly unlimited world of apps to choose from. But which should you consider and how could they enhance your life? 

Here, our writers Carrie Aimes and Emma Purcell round up the top 10 apps for disabled people and why you should try them out, all updated for 2018.

TripTripHurray app

TripTripHurray accessible travel app

If you live with any form of disability, you will appreciate how challenging it can be to plan an accessible yet enjoyable holiday, or even just a day out. But help is at hand. The TripTripHurray app is a travel platform for people with specific needs that lets you quickly and easily search for accommodation, public transport, places of interest, shops, restaurants and services. It’s effectively a personalised trip adviser.

You can get the TripTripHurray app for free on Google Play for Android users or iTunes for those with an iPhone. It displays relevant options both locally and worldwide.

It’s Accessible

It's Accessible app for disabled peopleIf you have mobility issues, It’s Accessible can help you find and share accessible hot spots, including bars, restaurants, hotels and car parks. It currently has more than 12,000 across the world rated in the app. It is community dependent, so the more people that use it, the more information there will be available.

It’s free to use and compatible with all Android and Apple devices. I urge you to check this one out as not only will it help you get out and about, it will enable you to help others too!

Find out more about the app on the It’s Accessible app website.

Dragon Anywhere app

Dragon Anywhere dictation app

 

This dictation app enables you to create and edit documents of any length on your phone, tablet or laptop, all using your voice. By simply speaking into the device you can create text messages, compose emails and edit long documents, and then sync them with your Dropbox or cloud so they can be accessed on your computer.

The Dragon Anywhere app is aimed at busy professionals needing to work while commuting. But it has obvious benefits for disabled people too. Apple iPhone and Andriod users can download it for free, but after a trial, you’ll have to pay (£9.99 a month and £99.99 a year).

Our tech writer Tom Housden has tried out this app, along with some of Dragon’s other dictation apps. See his article on dictation apps for a full breakdown of how it works and what else is on offer.

Changing Places Toilet Finder app

Changing Places Toilet Finder app

No matter what your disability, being able to reach an accessible public toilet in good time is a daily challenge. The free Changing Places Toilet Finder app, from the RADAR Key company, lists thousands of accessible toilets across the UK.

It is a comprehensive guide of more than 1,000 Changing Places toilets, which are extra large toilets with changing facilities. The app shows you how far you are from one of the toilets, how to get there, its opening hours, how to open the door, whether it is normally locked and information regarding hoists and slings.

The app is free and available on iTunes for iPhone users and Google Play for Android users. You can also visit the Changing Places website to learn more about Changing Places toilets.

Disabled Motoring app

Disabled Motoring UK app

Disabled Motoring UK is a campaigning charity and magazine that aims to make life easier for disabled drivers, passengers and Blue Badge holders. Its app allows you to find accredited disabled parking, get help refuelling your vehicle and browse information on Blue Badges, as well as the latest news from the charity.

The app is free to download on iOS and Android devices but, for a fee, there are additional benefits you can sign up for. Becoming an online member will give you access to the members’ area on its website, as well as a monthly newsletter.

Alternatively, you can become a full/associate member and receive the monthly magazine and discounts on everyday goods, from groceries to holidays. It’ll also enable you to get help with motoring-related problems, such as parking tickets and local authority issues. The full/associate membership will cost £24 a year.

To find out more about Disabled Mobility UK, visit its website, and download the app on iTunes or Google Play.

Physiotherapy Exercises

Physiotherapy Exercises app for disabled people

The Physiotherapy Exercises app contains more than 1,000 images illustrating 600 exercises suitable for those with spinal cord injury and neurological conditions. Search, select and save exercises for future reference and even suggest others if you wish.

Developed by physiotherapists, this is an invaluable source that does not require an internet connection once downloaded. Get the Physiotherapy Exercises app for free on iTunes.

Red Panic button app

Red Panic Button app

To be able to immediately and urgently notify a number of contacts of your whereabouts can be hugely beneficial if you’re disabled. If you’re older, have learning disabilities, or live on your own but rely on others, you might want to consider the Red Panic Button.

One tap of the red button sends alerts to your contacts via text, email, Facebook and Twitter. All you need to do is enter the details of those you wish to alert ahead of using the app, and they will receive a Google Maps link with your location.

Many features are free to both Android and iOS users, though there is the option to upgrade at a fee, which means you can even send a photo attachment and record a 10-second voice message with your alert. Gain more independence and security with this handy and easy to use Red Panic Button app by visiting iTunes or Google Play.

Guide Dots app

Guide Dots navigation app

Guide Dots is a free Android app for people who are visually impaired. By combining Google maps, Facebook and powerful crowdsourcing technology, Guide Dots creates a broader and richer sense of the world around you.

You can experience an audio journey of your surroundings by easily instructing the app to give you building and route information through voice commands. It’ll also give you alerts when friends are nearby.

This is another community-driven app, so as more people use it, more information and detail will be available. Get involved by visiting the Guide Dots website.

If you’re visually impaired, check out our article on the top apps and gadgets for people with sight loss.

Have You Heard

Have You Heard voice amplification app

Designed for people with hearing impairments, this app will amplify voices around you so that you can better understand conversations with people in busy and loud places, such as with a friend in a restaurant or a colleague in a meeting.

You can focus on conversations either close by or further away by using the ‘focus near/far’ feature, and adjust the volume to suit you. If you still haven’t quite heard something, you can replay the last 20 seconds of a conversation at the press of a button.

To use it, you’ll need to connect a headphone to your phone. It’s free and only available on iTunes for iPhone users.

Uber taxis app

Uber app for disabled people

Having a disability means that public transport often isn’t an option, leaving you to rely on taxis. To stop you getting stranded, you can download the Uber app, allowing you to request a taxi ride from where you are using your phone.

To do so, simply create an account with your card or PayPal – no cash required – and select a vehicle to suit your needs. If you do want to plan ahead, the Scheduled Rides feature allows you to book a vehicle up to 30 days in advance.

Uber has two services aimed at helping disabled passengers get around. Its uberACCESS taxis are equipped with a rear-entry ramp and four-point restraints, enabling wheelchair users to ride safely and comfortably with one additional passenger. Its other accessible service, uberASSIST, is designed for those who don’t need a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, but require additional assistance on their journey.

All uberACCESS and uberASSIST partners have received Disability Equality Training from Transport for All and Inclusion London, and both cost the same as using uberX, one of Uber’s lowest-cost services.

UberACCESS (previously called uberWAV) is available in London, Manchester and Birmingham, and uberASSIST is available in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and Sheffield. There are plans to roll out both into other areas soon.

Uber is free to download to Android and iOS phones, from Google Play or iTunes.

By Carrie Aimes and Emma Purcell

 

via Assistive technology: top 10 apps for disabled people

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[NEWS] New Study Suggests Benefits of Digital Therapy for Stroke Patients – Rehab Managment

Published on 

ConstantTherapy

A large scale retrospective study of post-stroke rehabilitation practices compares outcomes among patients using tablet-based therapy at home and those who complete the same therapy in a clinic.

The study, published in Frontiers in Neurology, analyzed data from 3,686 Constant Therapy users—patients with post-stroke aphasia—over a 4-year period (2013-2017).

In the study, home users and clinic users completed cognitive and language tasks such as Functional Math, Name Pictures, Map Reading, and Auditory Commands that are featured in the Constant Therapy app. Home users worked independently while clinic users worked under the guidance of a clinician. The study compared improvement rates for both groups, who were initially struggling with a task (less than 60% accuracy) but eventually mastered it (more than 90% accuracy), explains a media release from The Learning Corp.

Key findings include:

  • Home users took less time to master tasks than users who only practiced in the clinic. While both home and clinic users required roughly the same amount of practice to master cognitive and language tasks, users who had on-demand access to therapy on their tablet mastered tasks in a median of six days, while those with only in-clinic access mastered tasks in a median of 12 days.
  • Home users practiced therapy more frequently than clinic users. Users who had access to digital therapy on their own terms took advantage of practicing at home at least every two days, while clinic users practiced in the clinic just once every five days.
  • Improvements are possible long after a stroke has occurred. Thousands of people in the study, regardless of where they practiced, showed significant gains in language and cognitive skills even though their stroke occurred long ago (on average two years ago for home users and average of 1.6 years ago for clinic users).
  • Improvements aren’t just for the young. While the average age of home users was 60 years old and the average age of clinic users was 64 years old, nearly one third (29%) of users were 71 years old or more, and the oldest user was 97 years old.

Veera Anantha, president and CTO of The Learning Corp, suggests that the study’s findings show that home users who practice often can also progress quickly, which may mean they are ready to work on more challenging tasks in their next home or clinic session.

“These insights from real world patient experience could help update existing guidelines and highlight areas for future study to uncover how improvements in specific tasks can help people living post-stroke regain the skills they cherish, such as reading a newspaper, having a complete conversation, or ordering from a menu at a restaurant,” Anantha states.

A previous study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience examined the effectiveness of Constant Therapy among a group of 51 patients. It provided preliminary evidence for the usefulness of a tablet-based platform to deliver tailored language and cognitive therapy to individuals with aphasia, per the release.

[Source(s): The Learning Corp, Business Wire]

 

via New Study Suggests Benefits of Digital Therapy for Stroke Patients – Rehab Managment

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[NEWS] Struggling to focus? This new brain training app may help

In a world in which our brains are almost constantly overstimulated, many of us may find it challenging to stay focused for extended periods. Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom have now developed an app that trains the mind to maintain concentration.

This newly developed brain-training app could effectively improve your concentration and other cognitive skills.

Research suggests that a newly developed brain training app may improve our concentration and other cognitive skills.

Many, if not most, of us spend our days rapidly switching between competing tasks. We call this “multitasking,” and take pride in how efficient we are in dealing with multiple problems at the same time.

However, multitasking requires that we quickly redirect our focus from one activity to another and then back again, which, in time, can have a detrimental effect on our ability to concentrate.

“We’ve all experienced coming home from work feeling that we’ve been busy all day but unsure what we actually did,” says Prof. Barbara Sahakian from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge.

“Most of us spend our time answering emails, looking at text messages, searching social media, trying to multitask. But, instead of getting a lot done, we sometimes struggle to complete even a single task and fail to achieve our goal for the day,” she adds, noting that we may even find it difficult to stay focused on pleasant, relaxing activities, such as watching TV.

Yet, she continues, “For complex tasks, we need to get in the ‘flow’ and stay focused.” So, how can we re-teach our minds to stay focused?

Prof. Sahakian and colleagues believe that they may have found an effective and uncomplicated solution to this problem.

The research team has developed a brain training app called “Decoder,” which can help users improve their concentration, memory, and numerical skills.

The scientists have recently conducted a study to test the effectiveness of their new app, and they now report their results in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

An app that improves concentration

In the study, Prof. Sahakian and team worked with a cohort of 75 young and healthy adult participants. The trial spanned 4 weeks, and all the participants took a special test measuring their concentration skills at both the beginning and the end of the study.

As part of the trial, the researchers divided the participants into three groups. They asked one group to play the new Decoder training game, while the second group had to play Bingo, and the third group received no game to play.

Those in the first two groups played their respective games during eight 1-hour sessions over the 4 weeks, and they did so under the researchers’ supervision.

At the end of the trial period, the researchers found that the participants who had played Decoder demonstrated better attention skills than both the participants who had played Bingo and those who had played no game at all.

The researchers state that these improvements were “significant” and comparable to the effects of medication that doctors prescribe for the treatment of attention-impairing conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

App could help with ADHD

In the next step of the trial, Prof. Sahakian and team wanted to test whether Decoder could boost concentration without negatively affecting a person’s ability to shift their attention effectively from one task to another.

To do so, they asked participants who had used Decoder and Bingo to take the Trail Making Test (TMT), which assesses individuals’ attention-shifting capacity. The researchers found that Decoder players performed better on the TMT than Bingo players.

Finally, participants who played Decoder reported higher rates of enjoyment while participating in this activity, as well as stronger motivation and better alertness throughout all their sessions.

“Many people tell me that they have trouble focusing their attention. Decoder should help them improve their ability to do this,” says Prof. Sahakian.

“In addition to healthy people, we hope that the game will be beneficial for patients who have impairments in attention, including those with ADHD or traumatic brain injury. We plan to start a study with traumatic brain injury patients this year,” the researcher also notes.

An ‘evidence-based game’

Cambridge Enterprise recently licensed the new game to app developer Peak, who specialize in the release of brain training apps. Peak have adapted Decoder for the iPad platform, and the game is now available from the App Store as part of the Peak Brain Training package.

George Savulich, another of the current study’s authors, notes that, unlike other apps that claim to train the brain but do not necessarily deliver on their promise, he and his colleagues based the development of Decoder on hard scientific evidence.

Many brain training apps on the market are not supported by rigorous scientific evidence. Our evidence-based game is developed interactively […]. The level of difficulty is matched to the individual player, and participants enjoy the challenge of the cognitive training.”

George Savulich

“Peak’s version of Decoder is even more challenging than our original test game, so it will allow players to continue to gain even larger benefits in performance over time,” Prof. Sahakian adds.

“By licensing our game, we hope it can reach a wide audience who are able to benefit by improving their attention,” she says.

via Struggling to focus? This new brain training app may help

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