Cogmed Program for Cognitive Deficits in Younger Clients - December 2016

Cognitive deficits in your younger clients remain into adulthood unless addressed. Cognitive deficits include areas of executive function such as memory recall, attention/concentration, information manipulation etc. These issues have to be addressed in the young client to ensure optimal functioning and a positive outcome in adulthood.

There is increasingly more evidence for neuroplasticity, giving clients hope to improve working memory deficits they may encounter. We also know that as we train our working memory the associated areas also improve.

Difficulties with working memory will often present in your client's rate of learning, manipulating information, memory recall or attention/concentration. These difficulties with working memories are often found alongside other common diagnoses of ADHD, Dyslexia or other developmental difficulties. Both a child checklist and an adult checklist are available to see whether your client presents with working memory difficulties.

Working memory difficulties can be managed by:

  • Incorporating changes in the environment through modifications e.g. reducing the information load.
  • Teaching strategies to cope with the demands e.g. writing things down and setting up routines.
  • Strengthening working capacity e.g. practice working memory tasks or complete working memory training.
  • When recommending working memory training it is fundamental that it is specific, targeted and intensive to ensure results.
    Currently, Pearson provides a working memory program, known as Cogmed which specifically targets working memory in this way. The program is a computer based program, facilitated by trained coaches in the comfort of their own home.

    The program includes:

    • Strong academic, independent, peer-reviewed evidence base (Click here for Claims & Evidence document)
    • Trackable training allowing close supervision and support from a provider
    • Ability to administer and train remotely
    • Flexible protocol choices and extension training enabling coaches to manage engagement and fatigue
    • Cost effective compared to paper and pencil interventions
    • Close supervision and support of coaches by professional Pearson staff.

    For your clients with ADHD, we know that working memory is commonly affected and Cogmed training has demonstrated effectiveness in both improving working memory difficulties but also symptoms of inattention. There are many ongoing studies showing the effectiveness with a range of different populations (e.g. ADD/ADHD, Autism, Cancer survivors, Dyslexia). No medical diagnosis or assessment are necessarily needed for commencing the training.

    If your client struggles with anxiety or have high levels of stress it is important that these concerns are addressed and managed first before their working memory training can commence. This is where a psychology referral will be beneficial. When a client is experiencing anxiety or stress, the brain shifts to survival mode and overrides executive functioning.

    The Cogmed program is suitable for most clients, from the ages of four and up.
    Three different online Cogmed programs are available and are chosen depended on the age and presentation of the client.

    When presented with clients with executive functioning difficulties, it is a reassuring to know that results obtained from a working memory training like Cogmed, can facilitate this area of weakness but also impacts on general cognitive functions impacting their daily life.

    If you have any clients that might need intervention to address working memory concerns or other aspects of their executive function, we would be happy to assist. For further information regarding the program or other interventions, please feel free to contact me via my e-mail on margueritemalan@tyackhealth.com.au.

    Marguerite (Occupational Therapist| Cogmed coach and provider)
    Information for this article was collated from www.cogmed.com.au

    Address: 148 Radford Rd, Manly West Brisbane QLD 4179
    Phone: (07) 3249 5333 Fax: (07) 3393 4999