Even with the onset of dementia, the speed of information processing, the performance of the working memory and mental fluidity decrease. This affects the declarative new memory for facts, knowledge and events that have taken place. The time grid gets mixed up (episodic memory), the old memory is preserved as well as the practicability of previously learned skills (procedural memory). Language skills are also deteriorating. Verbal communication becomes more superficial, word-finding disorders are observed, word fluids decrease, vocabulary reduces (see study by Fernando Cuetos).
Word finding disorders
Affected patients often can understand sentences, but have impairments in verbal category formation (see study by M. Grossmann).
The reduced word production under thematically specified search conditions clarifies the difficult access to the semantic lexicon and is also used as a word fluid task in function-specific diagnostics.
This is where the training comes in: It is practiced to categorize terms, to find objects for certain general terms and to search creatively for words that correspond to certain boundary conditions.
Therapy of cognitive language performance
Numerous studies provide evidence of a beneficial effect of computer training (e.g. study by Anastasia Nousia), with the focus on the cognitive language performance of patients with early dementia. In view of the limited effectiveness of current pharmacological therapies for dementia, simultaneous computer-assisted therapy can represent an additional improvement in the treatment option for early dementia patients.
Description of task
The task is divided into three parts.
- Level 1 – 3: Words should be assigned to categories.
- Levels 4 – 5: Words should be found in different categories. Indicative stimuli are given.
- Level 6 – 8: Words should be entered in fields (similar to crossword puzzles).
Levels 1 – 3: assign words to categories
A generic term (category) and several words (objects, items, etc.) appear on the screen. Only one word matches the category, this word should be chosen.
After selection, the program gives feedback whether the selection was correct, then a new group is shown.
In level 3, one of the words may not match the generic term. In this case, “Does not fit” must be clicked / tapped.
Levels 4 – 5: Find words (with support)
Words are searched that match a generic term. The length of the word is given.
The user should enter the word. Symbols are used to support word finding.
Level 6 – 8: Find words (free)
A crossword puzzle is to be “built”. Practitioners can choose words freely from their vocabulary.
Predefined fields specify the length of the word and overlaps with letters of other search words. A few predefined letters have to be used, all other letters are freely selectable.
In the start window for all therapy programs select the “All exercises” area, here the “NEUROvitalis” tab. Click on the training exercise “Language – Vita Lang”.
A window appears for selecting the level of difficulty and the duration of the training.
Level of difficulty
So that the exerciser does not overwhelm himself, the training begins with a low level of difficulty. All other levels are locked with a lock, which must be opened by completing the previous task.
If a therapist wants to skip levels of difficulty, he can switch on the “Therapist can start all levels” option in the “Patient -> Edit” menu.
In general, 20 minutes of training is recommended. A too long training session leads to a loss of attention, the patient makes mistakes and becomes frustrated.
For severely affected people, the training duration should e.g. reduced to 10 minutes (attention span). In this case, several sessions a day make sense.
Progress in therapy
The therapy progress is saved automatically. A new session continues with the difficulty in which the last session ended.
The “Results” window offers various views of the course of therapy (button at the bottom of the “Therapy modules” window).