Thursday, April 10, 2014

DO BRAIN GAMES HELP #CHEMOBRAIN?

To say it's been a bit busy is a tad bit of an understatement.   I'll spare the details except to say that April 15th is looming and I hope there will be no extension to file personal taxes this year.  To say THAT has been a challenge is a massive understatement.

I'd like to share an infographic that was sent to me by DegreeLibrary highlighting their findings with regard to "brain training."

When I had my neuropsychological evaluation in 2011, I've already shared that "areas of difficulty" were identified.  Since these "areas" were all around numbers, it explains the challenges previously mentioned at the opening of this post.

I participated in a clinical study using CogMed software.  The results have yet to be published.  The only thing I DO know is that I was using the real program.  There was a placebo arm in the study and after all of my evaluations were complete (1 month and 3 months after the conclusion of the five week training), I was told I was using the real deal.  This was a good thing because there were times during the training I was ready to hurl my laptop at the nearest wall.

Bottom line, although CogMed is not specifically mentioned in this chart, that particular software program was written up in Science Direct.  Bottom Bottom Line.  We simply do not know if these programs are helping the general population and we definitely don't know if they are helping those of us whose brains may have been damaged from cancer and/or the treatment of cancer.

I'm all about hard evidence.  Good science.  Right now, there is no hard evidence for any of this.  And, I recall the brilliant doctor who was at the head of the study protocol telling me, "Don't waste your time with crosswords or sudoku.  If you like doing them, do them for enjoyment but you won't derive any medical benefit."  Of note:  the crosswords and the sudokus were actually hurled at the wall.  They were chemobrain torture.

I learned about working memory and short term memory.  Yes, they are different.  I understand lots about neuroplasticity of the brain.

I've learned much.

Mostly, I've learned that without an assistant at my side to keep me on track, to keep me from flying off the rails, I can NOT perform at the levels I could in my pre-cancer life.  I know there are many of us in this boat and I know, too that it's really frustrating to constantly hear, "I didn't have cancer/chemo; what's my excuse?"

I don't know about you, but I CAN discern a chemobrain moment from a senior moment.  They are different.  They feel different.  I will readily admit my normal senior moments.

Thanks to Aria Cahill for sharing this with me.  Just like there is lots of talk about those standardized tests they administer in school which I happen to feel stifles real learning because teachers are forced to teach for the test, are we simply just getting good at the games because we're using the games?  Is it translating to real world situations?  I'm not so sure.  There is much work to be done.

The short answer to my question, "Do brain games help chemobrain?" is quite simple.

We just don't know.

And this is food for thought......


 

Brain Training




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4 comments:

  1. Interesting. I was just asking the other day if some games are better than others for exercising the brain in different ways. It seems logical to me - but I'll be very interested in hearing the results. In the meanwhile, my life feels like a giant brain-game. Multi-tasking mayhem! :) ~Catherine

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  2. I'm glad you posted this. I'm a little sick of all the bs "prescriptions" that are being thrown out there as a "treatment" for chemobrain.

    I barely got through this past winter. Chemobrain + fatigure + seasonal affective disorder = can't get off the couch, can't think, can't function.

    Can't take Wellbutrin (the only approved pharmaceutical for SAD) either, because it's contraindicated for tamoxifen users...well how about talk therapy? Or maybe even acupuncture. Seriously, I had a doctor offer both those up, when all I wanted was Focalin, (which is an NDRI, just like Wellbutrin).

    Can I get a big old WTF?! Is the medical profession serious?

    But back to the brain games--I bought a 2 year subscription to Lumosity after Shelli Kessler published, but this winter, I couldn't even get through a single game. Yeah, that's real helpful.

    I think I've found an answer, though--it's working for me, but I don't know if it will work for anyone else. PQQ (take it with ubiquinone). And a little extra thiamine (but I have Hashimoto's, so that may not be useful for people with normal thyroids). PQQ is something of a miracle. It started working in a less than a week, and I'm getting better every day.

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    1. Yes, you can get a big old WTF!!! If I could have used a 100 point font for the letters, I would have.

      I barely got through this winter, too. Actually, the past 8 months have been a major challenge. I could take some of my stories to Hollywood and they'd tell me to get lost because the stories are so unbelievable, they just would NEVER happen in real life. Except, they did.

      xoxo

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