Your parents may be getting older and may not be as sharp as they used to be. Maybe you have a loved one who has just returned home from military service and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Perhaps your friend has debilitating effects from past trauma. Substance abuse, with or without a co-occurring mental health disorder, may result in difficulties in decision-making, memory, learning, and concentration. Brain training games could be an effective treatment for these disorders in addition to therapy. Read on to learn more about the research that supports brain training games as an effective recovery method and how Lucida Treatment can help you with cognitive training. Cognitive Training Programs There are cognitive training programs available on the web that are useful for people who are looking to retain their cognitive abilities. Research shows that computerized brain training is more effective than medications and physical exercise to decrease the risk of cognitive decline. Additionally, other studies also prove the long term effects of brain training. It is important to note that it matters what program you use for brain training. The Brain HQ program by Posit Science has the best evidence in terms of enhancing cognitive function in seniors. While brain training games do not affect all cognitive abilities, you can improve your concentration, information processing speed, and visual scanning through these games. Though most people worry about their memory, you must also focus on your attention span and processing speed. These factors actually underlie a lot of memory issues. If one does not learn well, one does not remember well. Therefore, you can improve your memory by enhancing your ability to learn. Brain training games are only one small component of what people can do if they want to stay sharp. There is considerable evidence that people with more extensive social networks do better in terms of quality of life and retaining cognitive abilities. It is important for people to get out of the house, visit family, take a class, exercise, and be social. The area of mindfulness meditation is also very popular right now and has an increasing base of research support. Research For Brain Training To Help With Disabilities Many brain training games aim to reduce age-related cognitive decline. At this time, the research literature on the effectiveness of these programs for individuals with brain injuries, strokes, substance abuse, or Alzheimer\u2019s disease is in its early phases. Additionally, multiple trials are underway for these and other disorders. One exception is that there have been some studies to suggest that Cogmed may be effective in improving inattention in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Altogether, a lot of exciting new studies will be published soon. Unlike most of the other computer programs, Attention Process Training-3 (APT-3) targets the cognitive deficits in individuals with stroke or brain injury. The exercises are usually much simpler than the ones used in the more commercially oriented products. APT-3 should also be used under the supervision of someone with training in cognitive rehabilitation. This is because much of the gains come from increasing a patient\u2019s awareness of his or her deficits and then helping the patient learn strategies to overcome the deficits. The goal is for the patient to learn strategies that will help them succeed in life, not at brain training games. An additional problem is that patients with stroke often have aphasia, which can involve difficulty in speaking, understanding speech, or reading. This renders many computer games totally useless. Cataracts, glaucoma, paralysis, or a Parkinson\u2019s-related tremor can also make many of the computer games fairly unhelpful for certain patients. The Future Of Cognitive Training Programs These programs are getting better all the time. For example, Lumosity does not have much evidence of its effectiveness published in peer-reviewed journals. However, it has tens of millions of users. In a few years, the vast data Lumosity will have gathered and analyzed should dramatically enhance its effectiveness. Lumosity will be performing research on a scale of which academic institutions can only dream. The same goes for the other brain training companies, but Lumosity\u2019s scale almost assures that it will be a significant player in the near future. Additionally, for people who have difficulty getting out of the house due to age-related physical decline or disability, computerized brain training is extremely helpful. We know that more training equals better results, so now patients can see their clinician less frequently and still get work in at home. What You Should Know About Brain Training Games There are three key points to remember about brain training games: \tIf your goal is to stay sharp as you age, be careful about which program you purchase. Not all programs have the same scientific support for their effectiveness. \tThis is just the beginning, and it will only get bigger. More companies are coming online, and some of the players will change over the next few years. The games will only become more effective. Technological advances in cloud computing and web conferencing will further facilitate a therapeutic interaction between expert clinicians and a patient in his or her own home. \tIf you have noticed a decline in your memory, get an evaluation to measure your cognitive abilities. If they are below expectations, then you should develop a treatment plan. The most important part of the treatment plan is for the patient to set goals and work with someone who has an understanding of how cognitive problems may interfere with life goals. Brain training games should only be one part of a comprehensive plan so you can improve your cognitive abilities. How Do Brain Training Games Compare To Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy? These computerized brain training games are not a substitute for a comprehensive cognitive rehabilitation program for an individual who has a neurological disorder. However, these games are a useful supplement to the cognitive rehabilitation programs because people can keep working at home and not just in the clinician\u2019s office. A comprehensive cognitive rehabilitation program for a neurological disorder has to focus on improving functioning in real-life activities as its centerpiece. Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral or psychodynamic therapies, is important to help individuals cope with changes in function and identity. Learning to use strategies to overcome areas of weakness is one of the most important components. This may include using an iPad to take notes or set reminders. Alzheimer\u2019s disease is particularly challenging because there is not much that can be done to improve cognition or even function once the illness has progressed past a certain point. Researchers are focusing on developing treatments targeted for the early stages of Alzheimer\u2019s to help slow the progression. It is exciting research and it will continue to improve. Reach out to Lucida Treatment Center at so you can get more information. CT Program Comparison Program Cost Clinician\u2019s Role Strengths Weaknesses Brain HQ $96 a year Optional. Clinician can monitor progress remotely. Strong evidence base. Designed for use with healthy aging population. Addresses multiple cognitive domains (e.g., attention, working memory, processing speed). Some difficulties when using with specific disabled populations, i.e., difficulty with vision, speech, or hand tremors. Cogmed Varies by clinician. Likely to be much more expensive than Brain HQ or Lumosity. Visits take place according to a specified schedule with direct supervision by clinician. Fairly strong evidence base. Oversight by clinician ensures quality of intervention. Focuses primarily on only one cognitive domain (working memory). While working memory is important, other cognitive skills are also very important. Attention Process Training-3 Varies by clinician, but it will likely be a part of a broader treatment program. Brain training games assigned by clinician. \u00a0 Challenge level determined by clinician. Strong evidence base. Best program for people who have had neurological problems, such as a stroke or brain injury. Allows the clinician to get details about types of errors, which is critical for treatment planning. Not intended for a healthy aging population. Has to be used with involvement of a clinician. Lumosity $79.95 a year No clinician involvement. Easy access. Engaging games. Weak evidence base compared to the other programs.