Over the years, we have come to understand that the brain is ever-changing, which means it has the ability to continue to learn, develop, and adapt new abilities throughout life. Neuroplasticity is the ability to reorganize and create new pathways. This is the science behind cognitive training, which is a tool often used by professionals to enhance their therapy with clients. Cognitive training is essentially brain training to help improve different cognitive skills. This can range from attention and problem solving to reading and memory. It’s important that we start placing more of an emphasis on keeping our brain as strong and healthy as our bodies. While the body does work hard to keep us physically in motion, without a healthy and strong brain, where would we really be?
Cognitive Training After Brain Injury
Brain training is a major tool used to help patients regain function after trauma such as a stroke or other incident that may have affected some areas of the brain. Exercises are given to patients during recovery to help regain or sharpen their mental skillset based on the type of injury sustained. Stimulating the brain through mental exercises causes neurons to fire, which helps keep your brain functioning well. This helps trigger neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to rewire itself, an effective ability after injury. Exercises can include repetition games for numbers and letters, rhythm matching, the practice of fine motor skills and basic mathematic problem solving, and even using your non-dominant hands for tasks.
Cognitive Brain Training for Memory
It’s become a major trend to engage in games that help increase your ability to remember. Cognitive brain training exercises can help strengthen your memory function, which can be especially helpful in people who develop dementia or Alzheimer’s. This is also a great preventative measure to help your brain stay sharp and active. Your brain is much like your body in the sense that it requires regular exercise to remain healthy, fit, and in good shape. The brain can atrophy over time, without being active.
Brain exercises that help improve memory include testing recall abilities, doing math in your head, and even learning how to cook. Learning how to cook engages a number of senses, all of which involve different parts of the brain. Unfortunately, over time, and as the brain ages, it can become difficult to keep your brain engaged, as there’s less that’s required of you. This is a major reason why dementia and Alzheimer’s progress the way they do. Individuals are not challenging their brains to keep them active, keep neurons firing, and continuing to try to learn.
Cognitive Training for Problem Solving and Planning
Keeping your problem-solving skills sharp goes a far way in maintaining brain health and function, especially in individuals with brain injury and those who have diminished capacity due to age or other related causes. Doing something simple such as having the individual make change, play sodoku, or play the crossword helps the brain continue to learn and retain or regain their skills. A lot of people have been taking advantage of these games recently, even completely unknowing of their possible benefits. For example, the mobile game, ‘Words with Friends’ is a great way to keep your brain active, working to form words, solve puzzles, and more.
If you are looking to improve your brain skills through cognitive training, there are also a number of online resources that offer fun brain challenge games that will keep you on your toes and thinking. A lot of these address problem solving, memory recall, and rhythm games that will help your brain continue to fire neurons, keep it active, and keep your brain in good shape.