Exergames for Elderly People
Introduction: Epidemiological studies have shown that practicing, in the course of life, activities such as studying, working and leisure promotes what science calls cognitive reserve, a type of brain resilience that makes the individual that has this property more tolerant to the pathological decline of cognition than others. Studies have evidence that keeping practicing these activities late in life may increase this reserve and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's Disease development. Currently, a modality of cognitive training, neurorehabilitation using video games, has demonstrated a likely positive effect on different domains of cognition, especially on memory.
Goal: To verify the effect of cognitive training modality, neurorehabilitation using video games controlled by body movements, on the cognition of elderly individuals suffering from amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), clustered in three educational levels, primary, secondary and higher education.
Methods: Eighty-nine elderly women suffering from amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI) completed the intervention period of a cognitive neurorehabilitation program. The elderly were grouped in three educational levels, primary, secondary and higher education. Participants were also divided into an Experimental Group (EG) and Control Group (CG) for each educational level. EG included 44 participants and CG, 45. The period of cognitive intervention was three months, 12 weeks, 24 sessions (60 minutes each) twice a week, with total workload of 24 hours. Cognitive performance was assessed using neuropsychological tests before and after the 24 intervention sessions. The control group participated in cognitive performance assessments and meetings with the team of investigators (psychoeducational lectures). Instruments administered included the 3rd edition of the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS III) and the 3rd edition of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS III).
Results: A two-way repeated measures ANOVA demonstrated the interaction between session, education and group. Cognitive intervention improved the performance of the elderly with primary education in all memory measures of the WMS III; whereas the performance of the elderly with secondary education improved in some memory measures, such as immediate and delayed auditory memory, immediate memory, and general memory. There is no improvement on performance in memory measures of the elderly group with higher education. The intervention did not change the performance of volunteers in the WAIS III intelligence measures to which participants were subjected.
Conclusion: Findings demonstrated that the benefit found in the performance in all memory measures for elderly women with primary education resulted from the plastic stimulation promoted by the cognitive training period, cognitive tasks using video games, therapeutic setting of the cognitive training program and, especially, the motivation of participants to learn during aging. The combination of all these variables led to new experiences and learning for the elderly. The findings suggest that the improvement in performance in the ability of the memory of elderly women with basic education be assimilated to the performance of the elderly participants with a higher education level. We can conclude that the new experiences and motivation alert brought about by the opportunity to learn promoted the consolidation of learning in volunteers with a lower educational level.
Below you can see a video of the project created by the Zero Hora newspaper (in portuguese).
This project was developed as part of the Ph.D. thesis of Simone Aparecida Celina das Neves Assis, advised by Dr. Ivan Izquierdo and co-advised by Dr. Márcio Sarroglia Pinho and Dr.a Carla Helena Augustin Schwanke. The thesis was developed at the Graduate Program in Biomedical Gerontology.