Recovery from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) relies on the brain’s ability to use other areas of the brain to take over the function of the damaged area. The newly-discovered ability for the adult brain to generate new cells may play a significant role as well. Games and activities intended to increase memory and critical thinking skills may help TBI patients rebuild brain function.
Engaging the Brain with Games
Games and activities that engage multiple areas of the brain are more helpful in improving memory that those that rely on repetition. Studies have shown that while learning by rote can help a TBI patient become better at accomplishing a specific task, it does not seem to improve overall cognitive function.
Games that people played as a child may trigger forgotten skills and increase brain activity. Try any of the following:
- Crossword, Sudoku, and Jigsaw Puzzles
- Card games like Solitaire, Go Fish! and Crazy Eights
- Drawing activities like Hangman and Mazes
- Electronic games like Simon
Apps That Enhance Memory and Critical Thinking
Computer games intended to improve brain function range from costly online courses available only by subscription to apps that users can download for free to their smartphones and tablets.
There are hundreds of apps marketed as memory enhancers. Here are four to consider:
- Memory Screening Test – Designed for use in acute care settings, this app is used by healthcare professionals to access levels of memory impairment. The app presents series of images to analyze and costs $19.99.
- Memory – Memory is a simple, $0.99 app in which players match pairs of pictures that appear on a grid, engaging the part of the brain that processes images. Users can select various levels of difficulty, ranging from 15 pairs of images to 150 pairs.
- Twinoo Brain Training – Twinoo combines numbers and colors to improve critical thinking skills. This free app presents math problems on one side of the screen and color combinations on the other, engaging both sides of the brain.
- MatchDrops – This free app presents images of colored balloons and asks users to memorize the sequence. After a few moments, the balloons begin to move to music, testing the user’s ability to retain information.
Playing games to improve brain function should never feel like a chore. A study conducted in Sweden in 2005 showed that brain-training can alter the brain’s dopamine receptors, not only improving the brain’s ability to retain information but improving the person’s mood as well. Games that are interesting, fun, and engaging are likely to produce the best results.
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