Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Top 10 Finalists

Out of the 40 organizations that submitted entries to the inaugural 2010 Brain Fitness Innovation Awards, 10 became Top 10 Finalists (and 3 ultimately won the Awards.) Here we want to recognize the organizations which, while not winning the overall contest, did impress the judging panel with the quality of their ongoing initiatives. They are ordered by the approximate age of their end user population, from younger to older:

Most Innovative Special Ed School

Arrowsmith SchoolArrowsmith School offers a comprehensive suite of cognitive programs for students with learning disabilities, targeting 19 areas of the brain most commonly involved in learning. The Arrowsmith Program, which originated in Toronto, is now offered in schools in Canada and the US.

Project Scope: Help remediate Learning Disabilities by developing and implementing a proprietary suite of neuroplasticity-based exercises in 3 formats: computer-based, auditory, pen and paper.

  • Project Leader: Barbara Arrowsmith, Director
  • Selected Comments by Judging Panel:  How easy would it be to say “they’re not smart enough” or “they’re making excuses”, instead of “they have a cognitive shortcoming that can be addressed.” The target audience of 5-10% of school children with learning disabilities can now have a fighting chance if models like these can be scaled through policy and/or replication. This gets my vote as the model creates almost immeasurable lifetime impact for those fortunate enough to be reap all the cognitive benefits of the program. Arrowsmith efforts since 1979 puts them in a class of their own as pioneers. Arrowsmith also has a process learning from and refining its initiatives. Program can be built further on very solid foundations.

Most Innovative Behavioral Health Provider

UBHCUniversity Behavioral HealthCare (UBHC) was established in 1971 as a division of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and is one of the largest providers of behavioral healthcare services in the country.

Project Scope: Remediate cognitive impairments associated with severe mental illness by developing and implementing an innovative curriculum and proprietary manual for cognitive rehab support groups, combining best of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, cognitive training, and social skills training.

  • Project Leader: Steven M. Silverstein, Ph.D., Director, Division of Schizophrenia Research & Director of Research
  • Selected Comments by Judging Panel: Noteworthy person-centered approach, focused on how to impact quality of life with self-empowerment tools and social support.

Most Innovative Foundation

aaaftslogoThe AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has a mission to identify problems, foster research that seeks solutions, and disseminate information and educational materials that promote good safety practices.

Project Scope: Improve driving safety among older adults by  promoting and testing visual processing training program InSight by Posit Science.

  • Project Leader: Peter Kissinger, President and CEO
  • Selected Comments by Judging Panel: Very high quality program Innovative. Eminently scalable. Benefits users, AAA, and community at large – very good synergy.This approach grounds cognitive training in an activity that for many is critical to independence. The tie to insurance will motivate the training which may increase road safety and have broader benefits for cognitive health.

Most Innovative Hospital

Saint Lukes Brain and Stroke Institute LogoSaint Luke’s Brain and Stroke Institute, part of Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas and Missouri, covers the entire spectrum of care including acute intervention, prevention of complications, secondary prevention and neurorehabilitation.

Project Scope: Help extend healthy independent living and address cognitive impairments by making accessible a Brain Fitness Center that combines education, assessments, lifestyle advice and targeted neurocognitive and mindfulness-based training.

  • Project Leader: John Corbaley, M.S., M.A., CCC/Sp., Director, Brain Fitness Center, Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City
  • Selected Comments by Judging Panel: Saint Luke’s program was impressive in a number of ways. I liked that they worked with multiple disciplines to create a holistic program focused on improved brain health through cognitive training, nutrition and exercise as well as other activities. It is no surprise that they have a wait list of users eager to join their program.

Most Innovative Adult Education

OUSD Logo Color JPEG
Oakland Unified School District has a mission to ensure that all students graduate as caring, competent, and critical thinkers, as well as fully-informed, engaged, and contributing citizens, prepared to succeed in college and career. Adult and Career Education services empower adults through through education and training.

Project Scope: Extend healthy independent living (for new pilot: improve academic success among at-risk students) by offering a Brain Fitness Class that combines curriculum, discussions and computerized cognitive training (by Posit Science, for older adults; by Lumos Labs, for new pilot with young adults).

  • Project Leader: Teri Barr, Brain Health Program Coordinator
  • Selected Comments by Judging Panel: Strong approach to overcome some of the age boundaries among targeted populations. What I love the most about this wonderful success story is how this program has been able to appeal to individuals across socio-economic, demographic, and educational backgrounds, and in the process deliver both real and perceived value. One way I think it has done this is through presenting a multi-faceted value proposition (i.e., build cognitive health + build community + have fun in the process) in a single setting. Lessons learned were also very well articulated, and the approach of combining high-tech with high-touch I thought was ingenious and realistic given the context.

Most Innovative Mental Health Association

1-12754The Mental Health Association of Rockland County, in New York State, is a non-profit organization with a mission to prevent mental illness and foster mental wellness through community outreach, direct service and advocacy for legislation and programs.

Project Scope: Extend healthy independent living by offering a cognitive health series of live events to engage the community with a stigma-free, proactive brain fitness message, supported by professional training, socialization platforms and cognitive training (by CogniFit).

  • Project Leader: Karen Oates, Director
  • Selected Comments by Judging Panel: So great to see a Mental Health Association promoting this important project and allying with so many groups and organizations, including CogniFit, in doing so. Great that they have been able to overcome the stigma so often associated with aging and mental fitness through the project. With the manual and pamphlet, there are excellent replication possibilities.

Most Innovative Health Plan

logoSCAN Health Plan has been focusing for more than 30 years on the unique needs of people with Medicare and is now the country’s fourth largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plan. The company currently has nearly 120,000 members in California and Arizona.

Project Scope: Extend healthy independent living by developing the concept of a SCAN Van to deliver health screenings & education combined with physical and cognitive exercise (Wii gaming; touch screen-based cognitive training by HappyNeuron) in places where seniors gather.

  • Project Leader: Lena Perelman, Director of Community Outreach
  • Selected Comments by Judging Panel: A clever plan for the delivery of cognitive exercises. SCAN’s is innovative not only because its mobile but because it presents a more holistic approach to brain health with its “multi-pronged” program.

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