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)
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.
Apple launched ResearchKit, its iOS-based platform for clinical research, in March with an initial class of five trials focused on a range of health conditions. Nearly seven months later, the tech giant is welcoming three new trials focused on epilepsy, autism, and melanoma.
ResearchKit was designed to upend how medical research is done. Until now, researchers were mostly limited to who they could recruit based on geographic proximity. By moving a clinical trial onto a mobile device like the iPhone, it opens up a goldmine of data for researchers. Within days of the initial launch, the five studies had thousands of new participants with a diversity of location, background, age and health. That trend has continued, Apple said, helped by more efficient on-boarding via streamlined informed consent and the wealth of data collected by connected devices.
“Researchers have been able to get infinitely richer data sets than before,” said Bud Tribble, MD, PhD, vice president of software engineering at Apple. “Apple has helped accelerate medical research by creating a simple way for scientists to greatly expand the scope of their studies, and this is critical to helping researchers succeed.”
Apple doesn’t directly design the apps. That is all done by the academic and medical institutions running the studies. Instead, the company focuses on providing an open-source framework that’s specially designed for medical and health research. All of which takes advantage of the iPhone’s accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope and camera. One of the latest studies even builds in the Apple Watch.
Below are the three latest studies launching on ResearchKit and what they hope to achieve.
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.
The best treatment for epilepsy is the precise monitoring of the epileptic crises. Since the objective of the treatment is the control of the seizures. And it
s what the Epilepsy App offers to you. With that app its possible to register day and time of the seizures, the symptoms that follows, remedies that you are taking and even alarm to remember the time to do it.
The information is saved on the cloud so you take chances losing your data. Making it possible to check your notes at any Apple® device connected to internet.
All of this turn the information at a condensed report to help your doctor identify with precision the root of the problem and prescribe the ideal treatment.
✓ Seizures video record
✓ Registry of the medicine used
✓ Alarm to remember the medicine time
✓ Registry of seizures
✓ Synchronized data on cloud (except video)
✓ Seizure list
✓ Share the information with your doctor
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.