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Ten Reflections on Cognitive Health and Assessments

Let me summarize ten highlights and reflections from stimulating discussions on cognitive health and assessments I have had this month so far.

January 8-9th: Symposium on Co-Adaptive Learning: Adaptive Technology for the Aging (details Here), organized by the Arizona State University’s Center for Adaptive Neural Systems:

1. Cognitive health is a critical factor in overall healthcare, but is often approached in a fragmented, non-systematic way. Most speakers in the symposium did mention how cognitive health issues interact with their specific areas of focus (aging, Parkinson’s Disease, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s…) but there was a lack of a common framework and taxonomy to define the problem and identify solutions and interventions to measure and help maintain cognitive health across the lifespan.

2. For example, Parkinson’s Disease. Did you know (I didn’t) that a significant percentage of Parkinson’s patients have well-identified cognitive impairments, mostly in their executive functions but also perceptual problems?

3. We truly need a Culture of Cognitive Health, as Randal Koene pointed out.

4. May online cognitive games serve as ongoing, real-time assessment of cognitive function? Misha Pavel thought so. He also added we may well see “cognitive exercise coaches” sometime in the horizon.

5. Skip Rizzo presented how virtual reality can help address Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and even to administer innovative cognitive assessments.

6. My presentation, titled The Emerging Cognitive Fitness Market: Status, Trends and Challenges, is available Here

7. January 22nd: Consumer Reports organized a health summit titled Blogging, Rating & Building Community, gathering some of their staff with several health reporters and bloggers (some of them blogged the event – such as Dr. Val, OrganizedWisdom, eDrugSearch, ZRecommends, Musings of a Distractible Mind, Diabetes Mine). A strong debate: do ratings of hospitals and doctors help at all?

8. Now, did you know that Consumer Reports has published a very impressive review on Safe and effective drug recommendations from Best Buy Drugs?. You can search by condition or by drug.

9. January 16th: Veteran Affairs in Palo Alto organized the event Mild Traumatic Brain Injury:  Definition, Diagnosis and Management. A great professional development event, trying to inform health professionals on emerging brain research. A key point that was mentioned in several session: there is a different between education/ awareness and training. This is, when patients have given cognitive challenges, simply organizing workshops to talk about problems and solutions will do little help. What is key is systematic training, structured rehab – (which is why we like the word “fitness” so much).

10. Finally, I have just joined a new Alzheimer’s/ Dementia Expert Panel organized by the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services to help “develop a plan to address the demand for services related to Alzheimer’s/dementia care for San Franciscans through the year 2020, and an economic analysis of that care.” My specific focus will be Prevention/ Education. It is remarkable that a city like San Francisco decides to address these issues in such a proactive way.

OK, time to breathe now. Will need to fully focus on our upcoming annual market report… fortunately have to travel little in February.

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