SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Korea Bizwire) – Patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have displayed improved memory recall after using an in-house cognitive training program developed by the neuropsychiatry department at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital.
Titled “Ubiquitous Spaced Retrieval-based Memory Advancement and Rehabilitation Training” or “USMART” for short, the tablet PC-based program enables patients to engage in cognitive training in the confines of their home.
To test USMART’s efficacy, the hospital divided 50 patients suffering from MCI into two equal groups. One group was given USMART training and access for biweekly 4-hour sessions while the other served as a control group.
After four weeks, the patients were given a battery of tests to measure whether limited USMART use had any quantifiable impact on memory.
Mild cognitive impairment is a state in which the patient suffers from cognitive impairment and poor memory recall capabilities relative to others of a similar age group. Symptoms include having trouble remembering and using commonly used words and increasing absentmindedness.
The researchers found that members of the USMART group outperformed their counterparts on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the World List Recall Test (WLRT).
Scores (of the USMART group) increased by 0.9 points on the MMSE and by 24 percent on the WLRT. Comparatively, the control group’s scores increased by 0.1 points and 7 percent, respectively.
The results, if replicable, are good news for the estimated 1.65 million individuals over 65 who are believed to suffer from MCI (according to 2016 figures from the Ministry of Health and Welfare). That would mean that 4 out of every 10 elderly people are potentially one step removed from dementia.
The hospital’s research team warned that mistakenly attributing general cognitive regression to aging rather than a correct diagnosis of MCI is a significant risk. Treatment methods like USMART may not completely ward off such diseases, but they can help delay their onset.
Professor Han Ji Won, who was one of the leaders of the research team, said, “Despite the fact that the participants in the study were seniors, they did not experience much difficulty and were able to engage in cognitive training through the tablet PCs without requiring a great deal of assistance.”
He added, “As there are few centers and medical staff that only work in the field of cognitive rehabilitation, we have high hopes for USMART since patients can use it to treat themselves.”
A closer look at the team’s research is available in the latest issue of the online journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy.