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Prevention of cognitive decline in the healthy population

The work of the AVAN Foundation

At AVAN Foundation we work to improve the quality of life of people affected by neurological diseases, offering support to family members and their environment. We work with patients who suffer the consequences of having suffered brain damage or a neurodegenerative disease. In addition, we work with a healthy population with the aim of preventing cognitive decline. We approach the treatment through a multidisciplinary team, offering speech therapy, physiotherapy, neuropsychology, occupational therapy and psychological support.

Neurogym Program

We currently live in a society where the pace of it implies that the general population is subjected to different sources of stress that interfere in our daily functioning, both physically, cognitively and emotionally. If we add to this fact that normal aging involves a series of changes at the cerebral level, it leads us to the need to prevent this cognitive decline or degenerative process by stimulating the cognitive brain functions in the same way that our physique asks us for a certain degree of activity to maintain functionality.

For this reason, at AVAN we offer the Neurogym program, directed by a neuropsychologist. The overall objective is to improve the cognitive performance of the person through the implementation of different activities that enhance and maintain mental functions and prevent cognitive decline.

How is the prevention of cognitive decline carried out?

The program is divided into four blocks:

In the theoretical block it is intended to provide information on different aspects that may be related to our brain health, such as the functioning of our brain, cognitive functions, healthy eating, physical exercise, assertive communication or emotional intelligence among others.

In the cognitive block we work to prevent or slow down the cognitive decline that occurs due to the normal aging process, stress or the presence of possible neurodegenerative pathologies, based on the processes of brain plasticity and cognitive reserve, through cognitive stimulation exercises that help to improve attention and memory, to acquire new learning, to improve cognitive flexibility or speed up the process of problem solving.

Throughout the psychomotor block, psychomotor exercises are performed to work on higher mental functions through movement, while emphasizing the importance of physical exercise to improve our brain health.

In the emotional block, techniques are taught to reduce stress (relaxation techniques, mindfulness…). The aim is to achieve improvements in mood and quality of life. And all this with the aim of being a dynamic and playful program where, apart from improving brain health, participants have a good time.

It is a program aimed at any young person and/or adult who wants to improve and stimulate their cognitive performance and prevent cognitive decline. Users must be able to read and write and not suffer from any neurological disease that could justify cognitive deficits, nor have physical limitations.

At the beginning of the sessions we perform a cognitive assessment to establish the baseline level of each user, and a final or follow-up assessment to see the evolution.

Neurogym and NeuronUP for the prevention of cognitive decline in the healthy population

The NeuronUP platform has become a very useful tool for planning the activities of our cognitive decline prevention program. In addition, as the activities are presented in an attractive way, they are very enjoyable and provide us with that more playful part that we are always looking for in the sessions. We use a projector to project the image on a screen.

NeuronUP session for the prevention of cognitive decline

Here is an example of a session using the NeuronUP platform.

Alertness and attention activity

We like to start with an exercise to work on alertness and attention. On this occasion, we have chosen the digital activity Maze with Alternate Instructions. We can start with the difficult levels until we reach the advanced ones. As it is a group activity, we can choose two versions:

If we decrease the number of errors allowed and only mark it at one, we add the memory component, because if the path is memorized it is easier to get to the end when the partner fails.

Memory activity

To work on memory we use the digital activity Orchestra Conductor. Before starting the activity itself, each member of the group can be assigned an instrument to remember. If there are more members in the group than instruments, the same instrument can be given to more than one person. If there are fewer members in the group, you can give more than one instrument to each person or give a specific instrument to the whole group.

Once the exercise starts, when the answer to the exercise has to be given, instead of saying it out loud, we ask the person who was assigned the instrument in the correct order to get up from the chair. The leading professional in the group will be the one to operate the computer mouse according to the answers given. The task can be complicated by changing the instruments assigned to each person after a few exercises.

Conclusions

Our brain, like our body, needs constant training to maintain, preserve and increase its cognitive abilities. The Neurogym program and NeuronUP combine perfectly for the prevention of cognitive decline in a healthy population.

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