Awareness of stroke is surprisingly quite shallow, particularly considering that roughly 1 million Americans suffer strokes per year. Though very often considered an old person’s disease, over 30% of strokes occur in people under the age of 65, and 10% under the age of 50.
One of the more common stroke diagnoses are the negative impacts on brain function. Depending on the survivor, their age, post-stroke health, type of stroke, speed of diagnosis and treatment, and other factors there is a substantial likelihood of cognitive deficits. Some of these impacts are long term, while others are transitory.
Post-stroke Cognitive Impairments
Depending on which parts of the brain were affected by the stroke, different cognitive functions will have suffered. These functions can be divided into six broad categories:
- language and speech;
- sensory information processing such as objects, places, items, or places – collected by different senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste);
In most cases, more than one function is impaired, and some are very much interdependent. For example, it may be hard for a stroke survivor to improve her memory with appropriate exercises, without first improving concentration. That’s why it’s worth guarding your brain function throughout your life, irrespective of stroke.
From a survivor perspective, expression of frustration connected with having to deal with post-stroke cognitive deficits is often present. These impairments and memory dysfunctions are common results of stroke. Unfortunately, cognitive deficits in most cases, have a significant impact on survivors’ quality of life. Even more scary is that these impairments can lead to various levels of dementia in about 30% of stroke survivors during the first year, post-stroke. Certainly, this is a very personal issue. To make matters worse, there is quite a lot of misinformation regarding stroke-induced mental disabilities.
That said, many survivors feel as though they are stupid or mentally disabled. Of course, they feel that this is totally unjust and wish they could explain their situation in a better manner. Certainly, most survivors want to get back to at least some level of cognitive wellness, so they can have a more fulfilling life and/or get back to doing their jobs, which sometimes is very much connected to their “brain’s abilities”.
A mission of Stroke Recovery Foundation is to facilitate a maximized stroke recovery. In that regard the Foundation has innovated its “16 Pillars of Stroke Victor Recovery™” which provides a Roadmap to Recovery. One of our Pillars is to “Search for New and Improved Therapies…” which will help to extend and improve recoveries – also in the cognitive area.
Digital Tools Offer New Hope for Stroke Survivors
Apart from many websites that offer free and paid games that train brain functions, there are more and more sophisticated and dedicated digital solutions available for those who have suffered a stroke.
Many of these require a computer or a tablet to be used, but for some, all you need is a smartphone with a touch screen! You’d be surprised how effective such a digital treatment can be, especially when compared to a pen-and-paper solution.
ABAStroke – An Introduction
We want to introduce you to one such solution: ABAStroke, which is under development and will be introduced to the US market, currently scheduled for March 2023. It’s a mobile app for at-home neurological rehabilitation of post-stroke cognitive deficits. It combines the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methodology with machine learning (AI) algorithms which provides the users with virtually unlimited exercise variations in an independent, personalized, and effective treatment.
Sounds something like science fiction? Well, not quite! Actually, the company plans to release the first version of its mobile application on a Beta basis, before it goes through clinical trials. It will be available through the efforts of Stroke Recovery Foundation to anybody who wants to give it a try, free of charge, in exchange for user feedback.
If you feel like you need an extra push to train your brain, ABAStroke can do exactly that. The creators made sure that the app will keep each user motivated and engaged throughout a 3-month rehabilitation period. You will be able to track your progress daily, learn useful facts about stroke as well as cognitive deficits in the app, or relax with a mindfulness meditation session as a reward for your hard work.
If you would like to be part of the Beta Test group, or this sounds like something you, or your caregiver might be interested in learning more about, make sure to sign up for the app trials at the company’s website — www.ABAStroke.com.
Supporting our second mission of improving stroke awareness, we will continue creating more articles like this to educate the stroke community and its supporters.
Any comments or suggestions, please email me at Bobm@StrokeRF.org.
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