This week I read an article on Salon.com about why “Brain training doesn’t make you smarter’. There is really nothing wrong with the article except that it bundles all cognitive rehabilitation software into the term ‘brain training’ and focuses on the user’s ability to improve intelligence - which is not a goal of programmes like RehaCom. This makes it very difficult for individuals doing their own reading into computer based cognitive training or rehabilitation to find relevant information - as brain training seems to be immediately dismissed. But not all software is created equal!
RehaCom was made specifically for people with acquired brain injury in mind, not as a training game for the healthy population. This is key because patients with an ABI have a higher rate of neuroplasticity (reconnecting of brain cells) than in the normal population. The ability to relearn or develop a compensatory path is much greater. RehaCom is designed as a tool to aid in the restoration or compensation of, sometimes quite severe, cognitive deficits.
Quite different from mainstream brain training games, RehaCom should be used in conjunction with a therapist and their full suite of tools and expertise - both with them and at home, for intensive and result giving therapy.
Think about it, you can’t put together a chest of drawers just by using a hammer. Well, perhaps you could, but I don’t think they would work that well. You need a number of tools, focusing on different functions, preferably with an instruction sheet, to get a good result. Therapy is much the same. Using a number of tools under focussed instruction will get you positive results. We don’t claim that RehaCom will be a miracle cure on its own but when used as part of the toolbox you will see the benefit.
So what is the difference between RehaCom and ‘brain training’ games?
RehaCom offers tasks that help train specific problem areas - whether this is Attention, Working Memory, Calculations or even Visual Field deficits. As picked up in the Salon article some of the software available only has measurable outcomes in one or two areas, whilst trying to train many. With RehaCom you focus on one specific outcome at a time, allowing you to focus on a weak area and improve before attempting more challenging or complex tasks.
One of the key differences between most cognitive training software and RehaCom is the importance and integration of supervision. With RehaCom we always advise that a client is supervised in person, or via the internet, by their therapist (usually a neuropsychologist or an OT). You want to know that you are working on modules of real benefit to you, and improving!
With nearly 30 modules to choose from you need to know where to start. With the guidance of a therapist you can have a set prescription of modules, with parameters specifically for you, accessible from one button click. The results are all logged for your therapist to look over, discuss with you, and change parameters as needed.
The majority of brain training software programmes on the market are self-led. This means people do as much as they want, when they feel like it, with no supervision. Yes, the programme will tell you if you're doing better but it cannot give you the level of detail or consideration that a therapist with RehaCom can.
Another aspect of supervision which is crucial to the success of your training is Strategy. Your therapist will have a number of strategies that they teach you for assisting in things like Planning, Face Recognition, Calculations etc. With RehaCom you can practice and reinforce these strategies at home without further assistance. You can feedback what worked and what didn’t, and your therapist can see the results and help you improve. With practice these strategies become second nature and easier to perform without too much consideration. Being able to put these into action every day will significantly improve success.
With mainstream brain training, you have no strategy! Sure, you may have instructions on the goal of the task but you haven't any real guidance as to how to do that. Wouldn't it be easier and more effective if you were given a process to follow in which to make it easier?
In all areas of science you can find studies which contradict each other and as the Salon article showed, cognitive training is not different. But RehaCom was built with science as its backbone, and if you are interested in any of the research and studies reinforcing its effectiveness please take a look at our Research page to read more.