Stroke can have a significant impact on a person’s physical and cognitive abilities. While physical rehabilitation is often the primary focus of stroke recovery, cognitive rehabilitation is just as important for restoring brain function and quality of life. Here are some brain exercises and games that can aid in stroke recovery, particularly for seniors.
Sudoku is a number-based puzzle game created in Japan that requires logical thinking and problem-solving skills. It can be a great exercise for stroke survivors to improve their cognitive abilities, including memory, attention, and concentration. Sudoku puzzles can be found in newspapers, magazines, and online.
Crossword puzzles are another great way to exercise the brain. They require a combination of general knowledge and vocabulary skills, and can help improve memory, attention, and problem-solving abilities. You have a choice of crosswords published online, in newspapers, or in books like those published by Simon and Schuster Australia.
Memory games, such as matching games or memory cards, can help improve memory and concentration. These games require the player to remember the location of specific items or images and match them with their corresponding pairs. Memory games can be found online or in stores. Some of these memory games may be in the form of puzzles, designed to test the capability for problem-solving. Continued activity may lead to regaining visual-spatial skills and motor skills for real-life functions, such as driving lanes and to proper packing of boxes.
Classic word games, such as Scrabble or Boggle, can help improve vocabulary, spelling, and word recognition skills. These games require the player to create words from a set of letters or tiles, and can be played with others or online.
Board games have long been a part of the Australian psyche and for stroke patients, playing some classic games may bring back memories. This may be even better when you play it with loved ones, allowing for more bonding and rebuilding cognitive functions. A board game may benefit a senior’s cognitive ability as it will train them to be patient and think harder about their next moves, thereby stimulating more brain neurons.
Some examples of brain-stimulator board games include Connect Four, Mahjong, Quirkle, and Jenga; the latter can do wonders for rebuilding motor skills, especially when taking out specific bars and putting them higher in the structure. However, choosing specific board games may depend on the level of stroke diagnosed. FlintRehab, in particular, noted that for mild and moderate stroke patients, chess and the wargame classic Battleship are possible game options while severe stroke patients can go for UNO, checkers or the card game Go Fish.
There are a variety of brain training apps available for smartphones and tablets that can provide a more personalised and adaptive brain exercise experience. These apps often offer a variety of cognitive exercises, including memory, attention, and problem-solving games. Examples of these apps include Lumosity, Elevate, and Peak.
Jigsaw puzzles can be a great way to exercise the brain’s visual and spatial abilities, especially if you’ve been gifted some as a kid. They require the player to fit puzzle pieces together to create a larger image, and can be found in various levels of difficulty. Some jigsaw puzzles may even be versions of actual paintings reproduced into puzzles with hundreds of pieces. You don’t have to finish the puzzle in one go, but make sure the progress is left behind in a table where nobody will touch it. The final puzzle may be put together into a special picture frame, and can tick off another achievement in a senior’s road to recovery.
Reading for stroke recovery
Reading is a great way to exercise the brain and improve cognitive function, as stroke is known to sap reading capacity and trigger dyslexia, especially when the stroke hit the brain’s left hemisphere (which is commonly used for processing reading more than the right side). It can help improve memory, attention, and problem-solving abilities, as well as provide a relaxing and enjoyable activity, whether its for physical books, audiobooks, or e-books processed through a special reader like the Amazon Kindle.
For a stroke patient, the situation may be a time to catch up on books you’ve always wanted to read but never had the space to get going. The American Stroke Association, in particular, also notes how reading silently aids in stroke recovery than reading the passages aloud because of certain difficulty in speech.
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Brain exercises and games can be an effective way to aid in stroke recovery, particularly for seniors. The above suggestions are all great exercises for improving cognitive function and quality of life. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise or game programme. With consistent practice, these exercises and games can help stroke survivors regain their mental mettle and lead fulfilling lives.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is purely for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace or supersede medical advice. The Australian Seniors Advisory Group does not endorse any game product or company mentioned in this article.