A web-based mental rehabilitation program may reduce the fogginess that some cancer patients experience, a new study finds.
“Chemo brain,” is a form of mild cognitive impairment experienced by cancer patients. Symptoms often include forgetfulness, lack of focus, and a feeling of ‘fogginess,’ researchers say.
Since there is no treatment, a team of Australian researchers wanted to find out if brain training using a web based program called Insight (now sold as Brain H.Q.) would help.
InSight/ BrainHQ is a set of adaptive exercises that is marketed for general enhancement of mental function, not as a treatment for recognized illnesses or mental deficiencies.
They randomized 242 patients with newly diagnosed solid cancers. The participants were mostly female (95 percent) and ranged in age from 23 to 74 years old with a median age of 53. Most of the patients were females with breast cancer (89 percent) and 13 percent had colorectal cancer.
All had completed first-line therapy, which included chemotherapy, which had been completed, on average, 27 months ago.
The patients were divided randomly into two groups; one group received the brain training intervention plus a companion program, and the other group got standard care.
Those patients receiving the brain training program improved by about 25-to-30 percent on a test of perceived cognitive impairment and their improvement was maintained at a six-month follow-up assessment, the findings show.
Their levels of anxiety, depression, stress, fatigue, and other outcomes also tended to improve with the intervention as well, the researchers say.
This is the first such large study to look at the impact of such programs in a condition such as chemo brain, say the researchers of their study, which appears in Journal of Clinical Oncology.
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