Best Life: Playing brain games before surgery prevents post-op delirium
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Right after any surgery that requires anesthesia, it’s normal to feel groggy or out of sorts. But as we age, the risk increases for a serious post-operative condition known as delirium. In fact, up to 50 percent of all seniors who undergo surgery may be agitated or have cognition problems as they recover. But can a structured program of brain games before surgery make an impact after?
For Sarah Sieling this is more than just a game of solitaire.
“I had surgery because I had a pinched sciatic nerve,” said Sieling.
That surgery required Sieling to be under general anesthesia. But several weeks beforehand, she began training her brain.
“The idea was that an active mind is a protected mind,” explained Michelle L. Humeidan, MD, PhD, an anesthesiologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Dr. Humeidan gave patients iPads with a commercially available brain game app already loaded. She asked patients to play the games an hour a day for a total of ten hours or more before surgery.
“There were word games and number games and hand and eye coordination games,” shared Sieling.
“You’re exercising your brain, your neurons, your neuro function. So Neurobics is where that term came from. And we decided to run with that,” continued Dr. Humeidan.
Researchers found the patients who did their Neurobics were forty percent less likely to have post-operative delirium. And the results improved the more hours patients played. Humeidan said along with Neurobics, she recommends patients take these steps before surgery: stay hydrated, remain active and take a walk every day, read every night, and pick up a hobby.
“I always enjoyed this part because there’s embroidery on it,” Sieling stated.
For Sieling Sieling, embroidery and quilting help her stay focused.
“I didn’t want to have hallucinations or whatever after the surgery. I had never heard of that, but I didn’t want to have that to happen to me,” Sieling said.
Researchers say future studies will look at exactly how the Neurobics affect the brain and will also look to determine how many hours of brain games will help patients get the full benefits.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Bob Walko, Editor; and Kirk Manson, Videographer
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