Cognition (a word whose origin comes from the latin cognoscere or “to know”) is the capability of living beings to process information from perception, acquired knowledge (or experience) and the subjective features that allow for the evaluation of data. As a result, it is considered that cognition consists of different processes or cognitive functions. Among them are learning, reasoning, attention, memory, problem solving, decision making and even feelings. Human beings use the cognitive functions mentioned before to try to understand the world around them and to interact with it on a daily basis.
However, many times these cognitive functions can be affected after a neurological injury, as a result of a neurodegenerative condition or simply, because of the natural process of aging. After any of these events, cognitive functions could be lost, affecting cognition one way or another. Moreover, since cognition and motion are intimately connected, it is highly probable that a loss in some of the cognitive functions also affects a person’s capability to move or control their body.
Cognitive capabilities represent the skills our brain has to function properly and to use the information collected from our surroundings. Thus, it is important to stimulate and train cognitive functions because they have a direct effect on how we use the information that is being constantly collected. And, according to scientific evidence, it is highly recommendable to do so through the use of cognitive rehabilitation sessions that are personalized to the needs and clinical goals of each individual. As a result, the first thing that must be done prior to applying a cognitive treatment plan is to assess the current state of the main cognitive functions of each patient. Only in this way, would it be possible to know which cognitive functions are affected and which ones have been conserved. Using this this data, clinicians can elaborate a cognitive treatment plan based on patient needs and on their main clinical goals.
One of the first things to assess is if among the affected cognitive functions one can find the ones considered to be basic or, if on the contrary, cognitive functions considered to be more advanced have been affected. Executive functions normally group basic functions to perform more complex tasks.
Stimulation Methods for Cognitive Functions
So, what stimulation methods for cognitive functions are currently available? There are several methods available that go from the traditional ones to the more technological methods. The more traditional methods include the use of “pen and paper” or exercise books or booklets. In the first case, when we say “pen and paper” we refer to those tasks that are normally developed by clinicians to work with their patients. In most cases, these are tasks created by clinicians according tho the needs and capabilities of each patient. Furthermore, patients would normally require a pen and paper to complete them (and hence the name). Exercise books or booklets represent a more standardized option for this method.
However, if we look at more technology-based methods, we find several types of software for cognitive training. Normally, it is said that there are two main types: the ones that do not allow clinicians to personalize the exercises prescribed to their patients (brain training) and those that do allow it. A software that allows for the personalization of rehabilitation exercises has much more benefits over brain training-type systems, since it gives effective control of the rehabilitation sessions to clinicians.
Rehabilitation of Cognitive Functions
Rehametrics can be found in the category of rehabilitation software for the cognitive functions that facilitate the personalization of sessions prescribed by clinicians. Currently, our software has 110 rehabilitation exercises classified by cognitive function in the following way:
Attention: 12 exercises
Working Memory: 10 exercises
Memory: 24 exercises
Problem Solving: 12 exercises
Orientation: 5 exercises
Perception: 9 exercises
Language: 21 exercises
Processing Speed: 3 exercises
Executive Functions: 24 exercises
The 110 rehabilitation tasks included in Rehametrics use a database that incorporates more than six thousand stimuli (including images of real-world objects, images of geometric shapes and words, among others). On the other hand, each one of these stimuli has different properties assigned to them (among them, main color, category, main use, shape, etc.) that enable Rehametrics to adjust the difficulty of each exercise taking into consideration whatever has been prescribed by rehabilitation professionals.
Clinicians can also adjust the duration and difficulty of each task, independently of what was selected for the others. Moreover, all of these exercises have multiple personalization options that allow clinicians to adjust the difficulty of each task to the clinical goals of their patients at any time.