Boosting Brainpower after Heart Surgery

August, 2012 TSG_PTIMG_620x920_cross

Brain training may reduce cognitive problems associated with heart bypass surgery.

Recovery from coronary bypass surgery takes a long time – not only does your body have to heal the scars, internal and external, there may well be other damage that may take even longer to heal. For example, most people find their memory and attention are affected for weeks or possibly months after the operation. Now researchers have found that brain exercises may help reduce those difficulties, allowing patients to get back to a more normal life more quickly. Researchers from the Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada, theorised that patients, regardless of age, would still have some plasticity in their brains and that therefore it might be possible to ‘train’ a post-surgery patient to get round the usual cognitive problems associated with coronary bypass surgery. (Plasticity is the term used to describe the brain’s ability to adapt and change.) To assess their theory, the researchers tested 44 patients, all over the age of 65, before their surgery to assess their cognitive abilities, including verbal skills, memory and attention.

The patients were then split into three groups: one was the control group and these patients had no ‘brain training’; another had brain training first focusing on memory and then on attention; a final group first had attention training followed by memory training. This was done so the researchers could assess whether any benefits were a direct result of the brain training.

The results showed that both memory and attention training significantly improved patients’ test scores. As these are the cognitive functions that are most affected effects after coronary bypass surgery, the researchers suggest that brain training should be offered to patients along with the standard medical follow-up.

By Siski Green, Wednesday 19 September 2012

Sourced form Saga

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