Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Mental Health App Improves the Cognitive Health of Those Living with Disease According to New Research

Mental Health App Improves the Cognitive Health of Those Living with Disease According to New Research

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New research from the Radboud University Medical Center Nijmegen and Maastricht (UMC) in the Netherlands has revealed how a UK NHS-approved cognitive training app called MyCognition is helping to improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s Disease.

The research shows that patients who used the app regularly for 24 weeks reversed the decline in their global cognition – that is their memory, their ability to concentrate, make decisions and learn new things. This was when compared to a controlled group of patients in a similar condition who didn’t use the app.

Keiron Sparrowhawk, Neuroscientist and Founder of MyCognition says: ‘These results are fantastic news for people who are suffering with Parkinson’s Disease, or have loved ones who are. Not only has it shown that it can prevent the decline of cognition, but it actually helps to reverse decline, giving patients the ability to self-assess and self-train their cognition. Finding a non-clinical, affordable intervention that individuals can action every day, helps to put a person back in control of their body. This can actively prevent some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s, particularly those that can lead to dementia.

‘These results come hot on the heels of positive results in other clinical trials including a mixed psychiatric population who had long-term psychiatric illness, and breast cancer survivors who were suffering with “chemo-fog”. Together, we are building a solid foundation to support the use and further research on MyCognition in any disorders where cognition is impaired or in decline.’

As well as the positive efficacy outcome revealed in the study, the app received an 87.5% satisfaction rate amongst the 21 patients who tried it, while three quarters (75%) said they would recommend the programme to other Parkinson’s patients.

The clinical study conducted by UMC was in Parkinson’s Disease patients at the Hoehn and Yahr stage 3 (of 5, with 5 being the most advanced) who had an average age of 64. Each participant made regular use of MyCognition – which included the cognitive assessment, MyCQ, and its video game, AquaSnap, which they played at least three times a week for 24 weeks. They were able to play the game on their device, with little or no supervision, on a routine basis in their own homes.

While Parkinson’s Disease is primarily a movement disorder, it can have profound effects on a person’s cognitive abilities and mental health. In many cases it can lead to dementia in advanced stages, increasing the burden on caregivers and ultimately resulting in hospitalisation and high social and healthcare costs.

Sjors van de Weijer, PhD Research from Maastricht University Medical Center says: ‘This research gave some interesting results. Unfortunately, there are currently no effective treatments found to prevent or slow the progression of cognitive decline in Parkinson’s patients to dementia. Yet, this research adds to current knowledge in this regard and could be a valid first step into finding a non-pharmaceutical and clinical preventative to help slow cognitive decline. We are excited about the future of research in telehealth, since these type of treatments could allow for scalable and affordable treatment solutions for patients.’

Bas Bloem, Professor of Movement Disorders Neurology from Radboud University Medical Center Nijmegen says: ‘These results, while promising, should be regarded as preliminary as we did not reach the anticipated sample size for this study. We hope to confirm these findings in future larger studies, with a longer follow-up. Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating illness for so many people across the world and to find an affordable, relatively straight forward method of reducing the signs of decline is hugely important. In that regard, the present study has been very informative and is a step in the right direction. The study also shows the potential that health tech may have on patients in the future.’

Sparrowhawk concludes: ‘The results have important health economic implications for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease because the patients were able to use the app, independent of the practitioner – potentially saving international health systems, including the NHS, both time and money. The study also showed that the app has the potential to treat other neurodegenerative disorders that involve cognitive delusion.’

MyCognition has been widely used by all consumers during the pandemic, experiencing a 184% rise in downloads when compared with March 2019 according to the NHS GoodThinking website.

The app cleverly focuses on the five core cognitive domains:

  • Attention. Concentrating on one task at a time, blocking distractions. This is especially topical in today’s society where we have so many forms of entertainment battling for our attention.
  • Processing speed. Speed and accuracy. Your ability to perform sequences of tasks with smoothness, accuracy and co-ordination.
  • Episodic memory. Your recall of past experiences and events.
  • Working memory.  Calculations and problem solving – finding solutions to make decisions.
  • Executive function. Planning, organising, creativity and control of our emotions.

The MyCognition app has been hailed as a ‘true differentiator in the field’ according to a report for The Gates Foundation, who reported MyCognition as a world-leading cognitive health company.

MyCognition apps are available to download from the app stores on any iOS and Android device. HOME is available via direct subscription; PRO and ED require a pre-paid license.

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