Brain Waves: UAB Traumatic Brain Injury Model System Newsletter Volume 12 | Number 2 | Page 2

STAYING ACTIVE AFTER TBI Part 1 - Engaging Your Mind by Elizabeth Wylie, PT, DPT Many people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are unable to return to work or school after injury. Too often, they end up sitting at home watching television. The problem is that watching television is a very passive activity. It does nothing to stimulate your mind or body! Simply put, you need to keep your mind and body active. In this first of a two-part series, you will learn how the use of smart technology can engage your mind. In recent years, there has been a sharp rise in the use of mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. They are portable, constantly connected, and have enough computing power to run complex applications (apps). Apps are small programs that allow your smart device to easily browse the internet, check the weather, play games, and many other functions. If you have a smart device, you have apps on it. Many apps claim to improve memory, cognitive abilities and overall brain health. So far, there are very few independent research studies that support those claims when it comes to people with TBI. However, that does not mean that apps have no value. In fact, many apps can be helpful for people with TBI. The University of Alabama at Birmingham Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (UAB-TBIMS) has a TBI Team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and nurses. They were asked to test a few popular apps to find out how people with TBI might benefit from them. Our TBI Team tested those apps that are free and highly rated by users. The results show that many apps offer fun, interesting activities that people with TBI and their family might find useful in 5 areas. 1 - Stimulating the Brain Fit Brains (iOS & Android) combines fun and engaging brain games that target memory, processing speed, concentration, problem solving and visual spatial skills. Games include matching pairs, coin calculation, finding missing pieces of a puzzle, finding shadow shapes, quick block counting, speed sorting and synonym and antonym matching. Games you play often will get harder as you improve. You keep track of your progress with the Fit Brains Index scoring system and performance tools. The app also keeps track of how many days you train in a month. Luminosity (iOS & Android) provides personalized brain exercises designed to improve attention, memory, problem solving and overall mental flexibility. You choose your own personal goals, and the app develops your personalized training program. Games include matching names with faces, remembering patterns and locations, ignoring distractions, multitasking, reacting quickly, searching vocabulary, using logic reason, and planning efficient routes. Luminosity also figures your progress and compares your scores to others. 2 - Organizing Tasks CanPlan (iOS & Android) helps you accomplish larger tasks by breaking them down into smaller steps. For any given task, like doing laundry for example, the app guides you and your family member through the activity. Together, you both take photos of each step in the task, Get Involved In Research! Brave Initiative The University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) aims to improve the motor deficit of veterans who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Potential participants must: • be at least 19 years old and 3 months post TBI • have movement problems or weakness of the • • arms, but the ability to make at least some limited movements with the more affected hand have no excessive pain be able to undergo MRI If you believe you meet the criteria above and would like to participate in this study, Go to the website, call 205934-9768, or email for more information. 2 adding text or audio as needed. Any task you add is filed under a customizable set of categories, which could include areas such as food preparation, household chores, shopping, transportation, exercise, workplace tasks, and so on. Then, you simply use the app whenever you need help doing the task. Evernote (iOS, Android & Windows) lets you organize your thoughts and ideas in one app. You can organize notes, ideas, photos, and to-do lists in a searchable format. You can also share your information with your family. Medisafe Meds & Pill Reminder (iOS & Android) allows you to store important medication information and provides pill reminders to both you and your family. The app also reminds you and your family to refill prescriptions when needed. 3 - Keeping Memories Twitter (iOS, Android & Windows) may be thought of as a social media app, but it might also be a great way for some people with TBI to keep track of memories and reminders. Simply create your free account, select “Protect My Tweets” in the security and privacy settings, and only you can see your tweets. You can then post your thoughts, add pictures with comments, and have your own private memory bank. You also have the option of adding friends The “Smart” Choice For Your Mind and family to your account if you would like them to send you notes and reminders through Twitter. 4 - Finding Community Resources In Case of Emergency (iOS & Android) can help save your life. This app stores your critical health information, like you condition, the medications that you take, and your emergency contacts. If you need to call 911, emergency medical personnel can access your medical information automatically. The app is also able to locate the closest hospital to you. W