Researchers Leverage Apps in Treatment of TBI

A 1999 report to Congress stated that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are the top cause of disability and death in children and young adults in the United States. Two decades later, an estimated 2.8 million Americans sustain TBIs every year resulting in 280,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 fatalities.

Depending on the region of the brain that received trauma, some patients have to deal with long-term effects, including speech difficulties, trouble with logic and understanding others, and apraxia. The cognitive deficiencies caused by TBIs can result in reduced brain activity and significantly impact the patient’s way of life.

Although it is virtually impossible to restore damaged brain cells, the brain can rewire itself through a process called neuroplasticity, which allows the mind to modify, change and adapt both structure and function in response to life experiences. Therapies that take advantage of this cognitive mechanism rarely, if ever, use drugs, relying instead on dedication, hard work, and repetition to rewire the brain.

Always on the hunt for more-effective treatment options for TBIs, researchers from NYU have now found a way of using technology to improve the cognitive functioning of people with traumatic brain injuries. According to studies published by NYU Steinhardt Professor Gerald Voelbel, a computer program dubbed the Brain Fitness Program has significant rehabilitative potential for TBI patients.

The program works by putting patients through cognitive tests such as syllable pairing and verbal sequence reconstruction to produce positive changes in the brain and improve cognitive function. The app also exercises the brain by asking patients to identify details of stories they’ve heard verbally and trains their verbal attention and working memory.

Voelbel and his colleagues found that patients who used the app exhibited improvements in tests on working memory, information processing and verbal attention years after they sustained their brain injuries.

Speaking to NYU News, Voelbel said that TBI symptoms generally depend on how hard the head was impacted. People with severe brain injuries tend to experience problems with their memory, working memory, planning and problem solving and reduced processing speeds, he said. They also experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, headaches, paralysis, sensitivity to light or sounds, and loss of sensation.

These symptoms can potentially last for their entire lives, Voelbel said, impacting their ability to take part in everyday life and significantly reducing their quality of life.

He said that the Brain Fitness Program had proven to be effective at improving cognitive functions in TBI patients, with patients who used the program reporting cognitive improvements and revealing changes in brain circuitry upon further investigation.

Many other companies, including Odyssey Health Inc. (OTC: ODYY), are also developing technologies aimed at helping people to recover from the effects of concussions and other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and CTE.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Odyssey Health Inc. (OTC: ODYY) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/ODYY

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