Danish Digital Cognitive neurorehabilitation helps Parkinson’s and Depressed patients

“I can remember all my grocery items, although I am not looking at my list. So when I get home and look at my list it is a small victory for me. It has generally become easier for me to remember my appointments, and I have regained my overview. It’s not only me who is noticing it. My boss told me, “your overview is back, you are back”, it was really cool”. 

This is the self-reported outcome of Rikke, a young Danish woman, who suffered a serious depressive episode, and since struggled with problems of concentration, memory and executive functions. She decided to enroll in a pilot study, with 30 other participants with the purpose of recovering cognitive function that had been impaired due to one or several major depressive episodes. The participants would train 25 minutes per day with special neurogames and listen 10-15 minutes per day to audio-guided learning and therapy, which included meta-cognitive learning and mindfulness training. 

The pilot trial is one of three, covering patients with Depression, Parkinson’s Disease and Brain Injury, and the pilots are precursors to large scale randomized controlled clinical studies that will be undertaken in each patient population in 2018 and 2019. 

The clinical trials are part of a larger project, called the Health Brain project, which includes leading Danish health care institutions and experts, including the including the University of Copenhagen, The Danish National Centre for Psychiatric Depression Research, The Danish National University Hospital, The Danish Centre for Brain Injury. The project was initiated by the Danish health technology company, Brain+, that was responsible for developing the Brain+ RECOVER platform and app, that is used in the clinical trials. 

“It warms my heart and makes me think that 6 years of hard work is all worth it, when we I hear the reports of our pilot trial participants”, says Kim Baden-Kristensen, the CEO and Co-founder of Brain+.

In Parkinson’s disease, the first pilot study, with 9 participants, showed significant improvements that generalized to standardized cognitive tests. Improvements were shown in visuo-spatial short term working memory capacity (Corsi block), reading speed and executive functions (Wisconsin Card Sorting test). Kim will present these preliminary results during the Neuroconvention on the rehabilitation stage, and unveil the Brain+ RECOVER platform, which is launching in the UK (exclusively outside Denmark ) during the Neuroconvention.

Kim emphasizes, “Although the pilot results are significant with large effect sizes, the final efficacy cannot be determined with certainty until the larger trials have been concluded. However, since this is a very low-risk product, that has been tested over several years in Denmark, we will already now open up to UK health care professionals.”

Is it worth spending 30-45 minutes a day in order to regain damaged or impaired cognitive functions? For Rikke, there is no doubt. When asked how she feels about the improvements she has experienced due to the training she says: 

“I mostly become surprised. Afterwards it gives me a feeling of both joy, and strength. My self-esteem has grown, and I have gained a belief that this could actually become better. I am thrilled. This is truly a victory for me.”

Don't miss Kim Baden-Kristensen, CEO and Co-founder of Brain+ speaking on - Improving Neurorehabilitation through Gaming and Digital Therapy Thursday 7th June theatre 2 - 13:15 - 13:45