An interactive video game was more effective than a word game at improving processing speeds in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with cognitive difficulties, and gains measured were longer lasting, a small clinical trial reports.
These results were in the study “A novel in-home digital treatment to improve processing speed in people with multiple sclerosis: A pilot study,” published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.
Almost half of all people with MS experience cognitive impairments that can affect both employment and life quality. Digital technologies are emerging as potential therapies to improve patients’ processing, or thinking, speed.
Researchers at the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at the University of California San Francisco noted a strong enthusiasm for at-home, digital approaches that work like a tablet video game among MS patients in a prior open-label study. But that trial lacked a control group for comparison.
To address this, these researchers conducted a randomized and somewhat larger clinical trial (NCT03569618) that compared the efficacy of a video game-like therapy to that of a digital but more traditional one. The study assessed changes in patients’ processing speed, and factors that might predict how well a person responds to the intervention.
This trial included 44 patients, with an average age of 51.7 and disease duration of 13.2 years. All had mild to moderate cognitive impairment, as measured by the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT), a validated test of memory and processing speed.
Of this group, 23 people were randomized to the experimental video game, dubbed AKL-T03. The other 21 were given access to the control word game, called AKL-T09.
AKL-T03 is an investigational medical software developed by Akili Interactive and designed to engage frontal neural networks through sensory and motor tasks. The game tailors its difficulty level based on user responses for a personalized treatment experience, and allows for real-time monitoring of patient progress. This built-in adaptability is also meant to prevent the test from becoming either too easy or too difficult, encouraging users to improve their performance.
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