The specific cause is unknown, but experts say up to 70 percent of chemotherapy patients suffer chemo brain, a condition greatly reducing ability to think clearly. Now researchers may have a remedy.
Doing crossword puzzles, Melissa Canaday was struggling to remember words while also straining to locate once familiar streets. After treatment for breast cancer, Melissa was suffering from chemo brain, which drains thinking and memory skills.
Melissa described, “People’s names, I’d look at my kids and I’d be like … couldn’t come up with their name. Couldn’t come up with any name.”
The program named Brain HQ offers cognitive exercises done by computer that restore mental skills, some using images while participants also respond to written or audio prompts. Studies, like that of New York University professor and cognitive neuroscientist, Gerald Voelbel, Ph.D., show these exercises have achieved the first chemo brain reversal.
“We’re making more or stronger neuro connections within the brain to make our brain more efficient to do everyday activities,” explained Voelbel.
Exercises are done for one hour, three times weekly, 40 times total. Melissa said they worked wonders after just a few sessions.
“I was constantly second guessing myself. Now I’m confident. If I’m going somewhere I know how to get there,” she explained.
Now crosswords are fun again, since she’s no longer searching for the words.
Studies show those brain exercises also help patients suffering significant head injuries, as well as the elderly.