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.
Across Western countries, more than a third of people will have a mental health disorder over their lifetime; mood and anxiety disorders are the most common. The effectiveness of psychological interventions is well established. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), for example, is as effective for mild and moderate anxiety as medica‐ tions; combined psychopharmacology and CBT is superior to either modality alone, suggesting a synergistic effect. However, CBT requires a major investment of time and resources. Thus, in public systems, CBT has limited availability and is subject to long waiting times; primary-care physicians and psychiatrists may not offer CBT.
Can technology address the deficiency of psychological interventions for mental illness? Internet therapies (including smart phone apps) have been developed, offering CBT and other psychological interventions. In this chapter, we focus on Internet-assisted CBT (ICBT).
ICBT allows patients to receive ongoing CBT with easier and quicker access, at reduced cost, and with increased convenience over traditional CBT. We review evidence from randomized trials and meta-analyses, which strongly support the use of ICBT in clinical practice, especially in combination with ongoing therapist support. We consider government experimentation with ICBT, with a particular focus on Australia. We also present a case demonstrating the clinical application of ICBT. Finally, with an eye to the future, we will look at potential research questions.
These are some of the apps that are available which may be suitable for OTs or service users. These apps are not endorsed by BAOT/COT – we aim to list as many as possible to make OTs aware of the options available. If you have used any of these apps, please do leave a comment to tell others what you thought!
Continue —> #Apps4OTs on Pinterest | Apps, App and Apraxia.
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.
While many people with epilepsy can control their seizures with medication, those unpredictable and involuntary changes in behavior and consciousness can be limiting for others. Neurologists writing in the International Journal of Epilepsy evaluated the application of smartphones in epilepsy care.
The paper by Lakshmi Narasimhan Ranganathan and colleagues at the Madras Medical College Institute of Neurology in India has been selected for an Elsevier Atlas Award.
Ranganathan’s team evaluated the mobile applications available for the everyday care of patients with epilepsy. Those apps include seizure diaries as well as medication trackers with reminders to take the next dose of medication. In addition, apps are available to answer any questions patients with epilepsy might have, to detect potential drug interactions and to detect seizures. The latter type of apps senses the irregular motions characteristic of an epileptic seizure and automatically set off an alarm to alert caregivers and doctors.
“Almost all smartphones have a built-in GPS,” Ranganathan said. “They have motion detectors and/or accelerometers. All of those gadgets, if properly integrated into a program, support epilepsy management.”
Ranganathan is already encouraging his patients to take advantage of these technologies. He predicts smartphones will be capable of much more. Already, researchers have shown it is possible to monitor electrical activity in the brain with a headset that sends the electroencephalography (EEG) signal directly to a smartphone. Continuous EEG monitoring could detect the spikes in activity that typically precedes seizures, to alert patients in advance..
The authors say that special sensors integrated into smartphones might allow continuous drug monitoring too. Rather than taking anti-epileptic drugs continuously and suffering from their cognitive side effects, people might take those drugs only when a seizure is coming on.
With almost one percent of people below the age of 20 and three percent of the total population suffering from epilepsy, and 30 percent of those patients refractory to medication, the development and adoption of these apps is of indisputable benefit.
Goto Applications —> OT Cafe: Celebrating OT Month | Apps created by OTs.
Our friend Michael from Home Healthcare Adaptations has done it again! This time, he has created an infographic that explains what sensory impairment is, tells us the difference between vision and hearing impairment, and lists some really great apps for both types of impairment and explains how they work. Look at the infographic below for more details (click twice to enlarge). The apps listed are either free or very nominally priced.
Best Mobile Apps for Sensory Impairment
What is sensory impairment?
Sensory impairment or disability, is when one of your senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch or taste, is no longer functioning normally.
A person does not have full loss of a sense to be sensory impaired.
95% of the information about the world around us comes from our vision and our hearing.
Vision Impairment vs. Hearing Impairment
285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide.
39 million people are completely blind.
More than 4 in 5 people living with blindness are aged 50+.
360 million people have moderate to profound hearing loss.
Current production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of global need.
Approximately 1 in 3 people aged 65+ are affected by disabling hearing loss.
Mobile Apps for Vision Impairment
App: Tap Tap See
What it does: Uses the device’s camera and VoiceOver functions to photograph objects and identify them out loud for the user.
Features: Double tapping the screen enables the user to photograph any 2D or 3D object at any angle and define the object within seconds.
The device’s VoiceOver function audibly identifies the object to the user.
Includes the ability to repeat the last image’s identification and save the image to the camera roll with the attached tag.
Allows the upload of identified images from the camera roll and can share identification via twitter, facebook, text or email.
Platforms: iOS and Android
Cost: New users are provided with 100 trial pictures to start. 4 subscription plans are available starting from $4.99+.
App: Be My Eyes
What it does: It connects blind people with volunteer helpers globally via live video chat.
A blind person requests assistance via the app.
The volunteer receives a notification for help and a live video connection is established.
Utilises the iPhone VoiceOver technology which enables synthetic speech and a touch based interface.
At the end of each session there is a ‘rate it’ or ‘report misuse’ option both for the helper and the user.
Platforms: iOS. Android version in production.
Cost: Free, but a subscription may be put in place from September 2015.