Somehow, instinctively, I knew that I should play games. I don’t know how I knew it, but I did. Come to find out, after playing games a lot for over a year or so, I happened upon an article that spoke to the cognitive function and the positive impact of game playing. Unfortunately, I don’t know where the article was on the web that enlightened me because that was many years ago, but let me see what I can find now about it. Give me a few minutes and I’ll be right back.
Here is an article I found from Multiple Sclerosis Net (https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/gaming/).
Unfortunately, she too doesn’t mention where she found her article, but like me, she intuitively found gaming to be helpful. Here is her article.
So let me tell you how excited I was to see this news release about video gaming helps those with multiple sclerosis! I did a little happy dance on this, because I’m a total gamer. Not just on the ‘gaming console’ but in the App Store and all that. It seems to help my train of thought going… really challenging me!
So, when I have some free time, which I try to make time for daily, I will play video games on the Xbox or on my tablet. My husband actually noticed that after I started playing more games, that my ‘cog-fog’issues seemed to happen less and less.
Now, if only we could all be professional gamers… ha-ha, but anyways, I’ve also played games on Facebook and on the computer in general, prior to there being easy access to games through apps.
So, back to the study… one of the firsts sentences is what I really wanted to highlight, “Video games targeting cognitive abilities may improve brain function in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), a new study found. Results, published in the journal Radiology, showed that these games strengthen connections between neurons in the thalamus, a brain region crucial for information processing.”
It seems that they were using specific games to target the ‘cognitive abilities’ in the brain… but I just wanted to share that I’ve personally found that challenging myself here and there just ‘playing’ games has really helped. Especially the brainteasers, the ones that make you think, etc. My thought process has seemed to speed up, with the help of games that ‘keep me on my toes’, where I have to process the information quickly, etc.
Now, when my husband asks me what I’m doing on my tablet, phone, computer… or why I’m playing the Xbox, I say, “Don’t judge me, I’m improving my cognition.” Which, he just laughs and shakes his head at me about it… but you get the idea.
My interest in wanting to play more games has really brought more ‘quality-time’ with my kids because I have two boys that are 7 and almost 10… so this is an activity that we get to participate in together, and they have no idea that it is helping me in some ways.
Also, I’m not saying that ALL games have helped me… just some of them. I mean, it’s hard to say that HALO (my favorite) or Call Of Duty has helped my ‘thought process’, but at least it’s something that I enjoy doing, instead of just sitting around pondering the ‘what-ifs’ in life…
I remember last year, that I attended the Abilities Expo in DC-Metro Area, for MSWorld. Dr. Kantor actually interviewed someone that made a charity, for those with disabilities that like to play video games, but need some sort of assistance, it’s called AbleGamers, the coverage video can be found by clicking here.
Anyways, this was something that I was VERY excited to hear about and I wanted to share with my fellow MS’ers (and fellow gamers) out there.
Let me see what else I can find. Be right back.
Wow! From the same site, Multiple Sclerosis Net, I found someone else talking about this same issue, but this time she gives the article specifics.
Cognitive decline – the slowing of our brain’s functioning – is often viewed as the most worrisome of all the possible effects of multiple sclerosis, but treatment options are rarely identified.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “Cognitive changes are common in people with MS — approximately half of all people with MS will develop problems with cognition. … In MS, certain functions are more likely to be affected than others:Memory (acquiring, retaining and retrieving new information).
The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America featured cognition in a recent issue of The Motivator, and offers a thorough explanation of the current reasons thought to cause change in Cognitive Issues with Multiple Sclerosis: Research, Strategies and Support. Beyond the physical change due to the demyelination process or brain atrophy, they also suggest polypharmacy (use of multiple drugs that might slow cognition), gut bacteria and/or smoking may contribute to cognitive decline. MSAA cites that the number of people with MS affected by cognitive decline may be up to 70% and there are times I feel like I am in that group.
So I was especially excited to see a press release from the NYU Langone Medical center about their research into ways people with MS can improve their function using online brain training games. Dr. Leigh Charvot presented the results of An Adaptive Computer-Based Cognitive Training Program Improves Cognitive Functioning in Adults with Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Results of a Double-Blind Randomized Active-Placebo-Controlled 12-Week Trial at the recent American Academy of Neurology (AAN) convention in Vancouver.
Dr. Charvet’s team used PositScience’s online program Brain HQ for the study group and the other group used a placebo program. For this study they included 135 people who were already showing cognitive problems associated with their MS. Each participant was encouraged to train on their computer program at least one hour per day, five days per week and there was a technician available to help and also provide direction.They found that people affected by MS who used Brain HQ for one hour per day for the entire 12 week study had a positive increase in cognitive functioning by 29% compared to the placebo group’s 15% improvement. I bet you will agree that is a significant number and is very encouraging. The researchers suggest the improvement rate may be even higher than found in their study, because their placebo group did their activities on average 19 more hours than the test group.
Equally encouraging with these results is that the participants all did their brain activities at home, on their computers. Access to therapy care continues to be a problem for many people, and that can include lack of transportation to appointments outside the home and the high costs of treatment visits. Being able to do this training in the convenience of home and on our own schedule takes away part of the access problems.
“Many patients with MS don’t have the time or resources to get to the clinic several times a week for cognitive remediation, and this research shows remotely-supervised cognitive training can be successfully provided to individuals with MS from home,” says senior study author Lauren B. Krupp, MD, professor of neurology and director of the Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center. “Future studies will look at which patients with MS might respond most to cognitive remediation, and whether these improvements can be enhanced or sustained over longer periods of time.”
A remaining hurdle for this at home training is the cost – Brain HQ, the program that was used in this study, has a free program that includes access to the introductory activities but they also offer a subscription program for as little as $8 per month ($96/year). You may not be ready to buy a subscription and the free version allowed me to try their program, which proved to be quite challenging. Although not necessarily studied for MS, there are a number of other online brain training sites – one of the best I’ve found is NeuroNation, run by a group of prestigious neuroscience institutes from around the world. NeuroNation has a comprehensive free program and they also offer a premium program that has a fee to use at about the same price as BrainHQ. If you use any online brain training I would love to know which ones and your opinion as to their effectiveness.
Even though we’re adults, this research shows we need to play more games – especially the ones that will assist our brains in the fight against MS.
The link to this article is https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/fun-and-games/
There are many other sites that confirm the benefits of playing games for aging adults, young children with various problems and people with cognitive impairments such as those with us with Multiple Sclerosis.
So I ask you, are you game playing with me?