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.