Interactive computer-training as a therapeutic tool in Alzheimer’s disease.

Hofmann M, Rosler A, Schwarz W, Muller-Spahn F, Krauchi K, Hock C, Seifritz E.

The current study sought to evaluate a novel kind of interactive computer-based cognitive training (ICT) in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). AD patients (N = 9), age- and gender-matched patients with a major depressive episode (N = 9), and healthy control subjects (N = 10) were trained to use an ICT program that relates to activities of daily living (ADL). Digital photographs of a shopping route were implemented in a close-to-reality simulation on a computer touch-screen. The task was to find a predefined shopping route, to buy three items, and to answer correctly 10 multiple-choice questions addressing knowledge related to the virtual tasks. Training performance was rated using the number of mistakes (wrong way), time needed for the tasks, number of correct multiple-choice answers, and of repeat of instruction. Compared to normal controls and depressed patients, AD patients performed significantly worse with regard to all variables. Within a 4-week training period including 12 sessions, however, substantial training gains were observed, including a significant reduction of mistakes. Training effects were sustained until follow-up 3 weeks later. The performance of the depressed patients and the normal controls improved as well, with no difference between the two groups. Self-reported effects revealed that the training was well perceived. Thus, the task performance of AD patients improved substantially and subjects appeared to have liked this approach to ICT. New interactive media, therefore, may yield interesting opportunities for rehabilitation and (psycho)therapeutic interventions.

Compr Psychiatry 2003 May-Jun;44(3):213-9

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