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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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