Rehabilitation App for Brain Tumor Patients
Patients treated for a brain tumor often subsequently suffer cognitive problems, such as forgetfulness and difficulty in concentrating, which can negatively impact their quality of life. Dr. Karin Gehring and Prof. Dr. Margriet Sitskoorn (Department of Cognitive Neuropsychology) are currently testing an app for these patients based on a successful scientific rehabilitation program, which they developed during Karin's PhD research. The app is now being offered in a clinical trial to patients at the Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital (ETZ) in Tilburg and the Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven.
The iPad app, ReMind, offers tips and strategies to deal with cognitive problems in daily life, and includes a specially developed concentration game. It allows patients to practice making a daily plan, to shut out distracting noises and images, and use mnemonics to remember things.
The app is now being offered to patients at the Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital (ETZ) in Tilburg and the Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven
Many different parties were involved in the development of the app: brain tumor patients and their partners, researchers, a neuro-oncologist, a film-maker, a copywriter, a translator, a designer, actors and software developers. The project was funded by the Health Insurance Innovation Fund, Foundation ’t Hoofd-gerecht, and CbusineZ. The app offers information and assignments in the form of short clips by a ‘trainer’ (an actor), sound files, and reading texts: users are free to choose between them. The app also allows the specification of a ‘caregiver trainer’, e.g. a partner, to help if something is not clear.
ReMind is distinct from other ‘brain-training games’ because of its scientific foundation, but also because of its content: lots of explanation, strategies to learn, and exercises for daily life. The app means that many more brain tumor patients can progress through the rehabilitation program in the comfort of their own home and at their own speed.
ETZ pilot successful
A first, 15-patient pilot at the Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital in Tilburg was successfully completed, and the results were published in a medical science journal. 85% of its participants judged the program as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ and all of them were willing to recommend it to other brain tumor patients. Because some patients found the concentration game rather too easy, more difficult exercises were added.
Photo: Karin Gehring
Many brain tumor patients will benefit from the ReMind app
New clinical trial in ETZ
At the moment, a clinical trial is being carried out in Tilburg and Eindhoven, in which patients work at home with ReMind at their own pace three months after the operation under the supervision of nursing specialists. After the summer an evaluation will take place, followed by a blueprint for the rollout in other hospitals. The app is now being tested in the US. Alumna Sophie van der Linden, who carried out the pilot at ETZ and the subsequent major comparative research into ReMind, will defend her PhD thesis based on the results on January 15, 2020.
Photography: Pixabay (photo top of the page), K. Gehring