A new study has used AttenGo training to test the novel hypothesis that cognitive training can help patients with Parkinson’s Disease gain improved mobility.
The study was headed by Prof. Jeffrey M. Hausdorff through the clinical research unit of one of Israel’s leading public health services, together with Drs Uzi Milman, Hagit Atias, Aner Weiss and Anat Mirelman.
Based on previous research showing initial positive findings for the effect of cognitive training on improving gait and motility in older individuals –this is the first study of its kind to study the impact on Parkinson’s Disease patients.
The researchers noted the connection between cognitive function and mobility (changes in gait and risk of falling). Executive Functions are generally impaired in PD patients and considered to be related to the level of impaired mobility. These cognitive functions may be directly related, for example, to the ability to walk and carry out another task, or to control movement in response to complex environments.
The main study question was whether cognitive training could help improve mobility in PD patients. To answer this question, participants were given 12 weeks of training in their home and tested on standard and thorough mobility and cognitive measures before and after their training (tested with the Mindstream system).
“AttenGo software was used to provide cognitive training. The computer-based cognitive remediation program was developed to improve cognitive function in a variety of patient populations such as children and adults with ADHD… For this study, we specified that the training would focus on executive function and attention (AttenFocus). Games challenged subjects with problem solving, information processing, response inhibition, and dividing attention.”
The results are encouraging. While prior to training, cognitive functioning was found to be significantly lower than what is expected of healthy individuals of the same age, after training, significant improvement was measured in the global cognitive score.
These cognitive improvements transferred also to mobility scores. Furthermore, there appeared to be a “dosing effect” – where subjects who trained more tended to improve more.
An additional intriguing results of this study was that both cognitive and mobility measurements continued to improve in a 4-week follow-up visit: “…the global cognitive score and TUG times … continued to improve when tested 4 weeks after the patients stopped training.”
These results are thought-provoking in regards to the relationship between general motility and navigation in complex environments in patients with deteriorating cognitive function; and bear further research.
Reference: Milman U, Atias H, Weiss A, Mirelman A and Hausdorff JM. Can Cognitive Remediation Improve Mobility in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease? Findings from a 12 week Pilot Study. Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. Pre-Press Publication