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Playing video games before major surgery prevents delirium and helps speed up recovery, study finds 

Playing video games before major surgery prevents delirium and helps speed up recovery, study finds 

Exercising your brain by playing video games before major surgery can prevent delirium and help speed up the recovery process, scientists claim. 

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Exercising your brain by playing video games before major surgery can prevent delirium and help speed up the recovery process, scientists claim. 

Researchers from Ohio State College of Medicine gave a tablet with a brain game application to 268 patients over the age of 60 scheduled to have major surgery.

Patients were asked to play brain games – a practice called ‘neurobics’ – for an hour per day before major surgery as part of the study – and experts found it reduced the risk of postoperative delirium in those who played regularly by over 60 per cent. 

Doctors already recommend prehabilitation techniques for patients due to undergo surgery – but usually in the form of exercise and a healthy diet to help the body. 

A new study by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds keeping the mind active and challenged leading up to a major surgery can help prevent postoperative delirium

A new study by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds keeping the mind active and challenged leading up to a major surgery can help prevent postoperative delirium

A new study by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds keeping the mind active and challenged leading up to a major surgery can help prevent postoperative delirium

Researchers created a game that met all the requirements needed to exercise the brain on the run up to a major surgery including memory, speed, attention, flexibility, and problem solving abilities

Researchers created a game that met all the requirements needed to exercise the brain on the run up to a major surgery including memory, speed, attention, flexibility, and problem solving abilities

Researchers created a game that met all the requirements needed to exercise the brain on the run up to a major surgery including memory, speed, attention, flexibility, and problem solving abilities

None of the existing prehabilitation techniques address postoperative delirium, according to Ohio researchers – a condition that can slow down recovery. 

Developing postoperative delirium can lead to longer hospital stays and even increase the risk of death, especially among older patients.

Study author Dr Michelle Humeidan said: ‘Essentially, your brain can be prepared for surgery, just as the body can, by keeping your mind active and challenged.

‘Patients who practiced neurobics were 40 per cent less likely to experience postoperative delirium than those who did not, and the results improved the more hours they played,’ Humeidan said.

For the experiment 268 patients over the age of 60 who were scheduled to have a major surgery requiring general anaesthetic were given a tablet loaded with a game.

Participants were asked to play the brain game for an hour a day before their surgery.

Dr Humeidan said: ‘Not all patients played the games as much as we asked, but those who played any at all saw some benefit.’

The game was specially designed to exercise memory, speed, attention, flexibility, and problem solving abilities.

Those who played between five and ten hours before their surgery were 50 per cent less likely to suffer from post-surgery delirium, the researchers found.

Participants who exercised their brains for 10 hours or more reduced their chances of delirium by 61 per cent.

Delirium is a common condition which affects around a third of people who are admitted to hospital in the UK and can sometimes last for months.

Sarah Sieling is back to gardening after successful spinal fusion surgery. She participated in a study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center that used tablet-based brain games to prevent postoperative delirium, a serious and common complication in older patients

Sarah Sieling is back to gardening after successful spinal fusion surgery. She participated in a study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center that used tablet-based brain games to prevent postoperative delirium, a serious and common complication in older patients

Sarah Sieling is back to gardening after successful spinal fusion surgery. She participated in a study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center that used tablet-based brain games to prevent postoperative delirium, a serious and common complication in older patients

Postoperative delirium is a common complication after major surgery that can slow recovery and even increase the risk of death but brain training games can reduce the risk

Postoperative delirium is a common complication after major surgery that can slow recovery and even increase the risk of death but brain training games can reduce the risk

Postoperative delirium is a common complication after major surgery that can slow recovery and even increase the risk of death but brain training games can reduce the risk

Co-author Professor Sergio Bergese at Stony Brook University said the intervention involving a game even worked for patients who barely played games. 

‘The ideal activities, timing, and effective dose for cognitive exercise-based interventions to decrease postoperative delirium risk and burden need further study,’ explained Bergese.

How exactly these games impact the brain’s processes and how often patients should practice neurobics to reap the full benefits, is next on the research agenda.

Dr Humeidan said: ‘Using the app was ideal for this study because we could easily track how long and how often patients were playing.

‘But things like reading the newspaper, doing crossword puzzles or anything you enjoy to challenge your mind for an hour each day may improve your mental fitness and help prevent delirium as well.’

The findings were published in the journal JAMA Surgery.

POSTOPERATIVE DELIRIUM: THE ONSET OF SUDDEN CONFUSION AFTER SURGERY 

Postoperative delirium is a condition that can increase the time it takes to recover after major surgery that involved anaesthetic and could increase the risk of death in people over the age of 55. 

As a term, delirium means ‘sudden confusion’ and is a sudden change in mental function that can cause people to become aggressive, agitated, sleepy, inactive or a combination. 

It is the most common form of post-operative complication in older adults. 

Delirium is a common condition which affects around a third of people who are admitted to hospital in the UK and can sometimes last for months.

It is preventable up to 40 per cent of the time through interventions such as walking multiple times per day, allowing a full night sleep in hospital and avoiding medicines that can cause delirium including those used for anxiety.

A recent study found that game-based brain training for an hour a day up to major surgery can reduce the risk of delirium by up to 60 per cent. 

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This post first appeared on Dailymail.co.uk

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