Case study of the Multiple Sclerosis Community “Offensive“ for computer-assisted brain performance training
The therapy group cognitive training in Chemnitz/Germany is an offer for people with acquired organic brain injuries. It was established in 1994 and is operated by volunteers directed out-patient offer for people with acquired organic brain injuries. Since 1997 we have been working together intensively with the company HASOMED GmbH from Magdeburg, Germany, with nowadays five working stations.
Our RehaCom programmes include all so far offered options and are provided as training for chronically ill individuals from Monday till Thursday each single week. Friday is usually used for new patients being sent by psychologists, health insurers, social workers, as well as via psychiatric clinic in Chemnitz. On that day Ms B. finalizes training plans referring to guidelines or the evaluation by the affected person.
Generally, training takes place twice, 20 minutes up to two hours per day and patient. Those patients who have more severe deficits have to be paid more attention to, that means a break with a glass of water or even lunch. Important to note, however, is that due to our experience, we appoint those people who need an afternoon nap only in the afternoon from 5:00 to 7:00 pm; or the affected person exercises on his/her own together with a trainer on Friday. He/she ought to attend the discussion group on Wednesday, though, in order to get used to outside noises, so that they can concentrate within the community. You all know that our work is based on patience and unlimited time of the RehaCom training, and thus, the affected people do have a chance to cope with their daily tasks or get along with less help at some point again.
Every week, about 30 patients start to train in our institution for at least one year. One patient (60 years old, suffering from a stroke) for example, since 2004, learned to eat and to drink out of a cup without help, and furthermore to write along a straight line, as well as numbers by using the programme “Visuo-motor coordination“. Five affected persons learned to recognize letters, to read, and later on to memorize contents of texts with the programme “Verbal memory“. Writing sentences after reading these aloud was easier to learn than to create sentences in correct order. This has only been possible for three months now, so after the third year of cognitive training.
Three patients highly increased their reaction behaviour and reactivity so that they could accept jobs on a part-time basis (one year twice a week, one year once a week): A man with MS worked in a workshop for handicapped individuals; an accident victim at his old work place, since he got back his driving ability after trying twice; and a brain tumour patient as well because he got back his driver ́s license and coordination.
A further example is a young man who was unable to speak or “think” and who had been in a wheelchair ever since. Since 2005, due to his mother ́s patience and help of our individualized therapy, he has been able to communicate with people, to write with help and think logically again.
Also, many other people who attend training with RehaCom programmes, by HASOMED, achieve further progress or maintain their current level of cognitive abilities.
We do notice that the often made statement “This condition is not improvable“, is untrue.
The pre-condition, though, is to be patient.
Mr B. is 58 and lives in a small town in Germany with his wife and family.
An Electrical Engineer by trade, he built his own neon signs company from scratch and been running it alongside his wife for almost 20 years when suddenly, on 11 March 2009, his life took a different turn. This date will no doubt be embossed in Mr. B’s mind forever because quite out of the blue, he suffered a stroke whilst sat in his office working.
Fortunately for Mr. B, his son-in-law was in the office at the time and recognised the problem instantly. An ambulance was called and Mr. B. was rushed into an intensive stroke unit in Magdeburg, where the doctors also quickly diagnosed the stroke from his family history - his father had been similarly afflicted at the age of 71.
After a week in the stroke unit and three weeks in second hospital, he was referred to Magdeburg’s leading centre for neuro-rehabilitation, where a four-pronged therapy plan was established, spanning physiotherapy, occupational therapy, neurology and speech therapy. At a neurological level, extensive tests diagnosed Mr B. as having Attention / Concentration and Visual Field deficits.
Mr. B. spent five months at this specialist neuro-rehabilitation centre - two months as an almost full- time in-patient followed by three months part-time in the day clinic. A tailored neurological rehabilitation programme included thirty minutes a day up to four times a week working with Magdeburg software company Hasomed’s pioneering software programme RehaCom. Medically proven and used in neuro-rehabilitation centres across the globe, RehaCom was considered perfect to re-train Mr. B’s neurological weak points. Mr. B explains:
“With RehaCom I feel like all the damaged connectors between the cells in the affected area of my brain are starting to join up again”
Five months later Mr. B was ready to go home, but he knew he would be using RehaCom for many months to come:
“For me it’s like physical exercise – you have to do it regularly or you become unfit. It’s the same with the brain, and more so once you have had a stroke. Use it or lose it, as they say.”
The whole RehaCom experience has been an emotional journey for Mr. B:
“At first I was depressed when I started working with RehaCom - I couldn’t complete even the lower levels of difficulty. But then I started flying through the difficulty levels I became more and more enthusiastic and ambitious. And with hindsight, the depression at the start was simply a natural consequence of RehaCom forcing me to recognise my limits”
Mr. B now trains regularly at home with RehaCom. Every fourteen days he receives a new personalised therapy plan from his therapist based on his progress over the previous fortnight. His concentration and attention have improved dramatically, and he can now watch TV and read books for much longer time spans than before.
When asked if Mr. B would recommend RehaCom to others in a similar situation he enthused:
“Absolutely! Without question. I have tried several brain training products and nowhere else will you find one with such advanced capability yet at the same time customisable to an individual’s particular weaknesses”
Of course the past year or so has been tough for both Mr. B and his wife, but thanks to RehaCom and the part it has played in his overall rehabilitation programme, life is starting afresh for both of them.