Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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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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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm and think tank tracking health and performance applications of brain science.