A new study suggests doing one simple thing before having surgery can improve recovery.
Brain games have been shown to improve surgery recovery.
It can also prevent post-surgery delirium -- a serious and common complication among older patients. It causes confused thinking -- and a reduction in awareness that is common in older adults who are hospitalized.
“I think it’s been dismissed, historically, because people just think, ‘Oh, they’re not thinking clearly like they did before surgery. that’s normal.’ And, it’s not,” said Dr. Michelle Humeidan, an anesthesiologist and the study’s lead author.
Humeidan and her team gave tablets loaded with games that exercised the brain to more than 250 adults over the age of 60, asking them to play for 10 days-- an hour a day -- leading up to a major procedure requiring general anesthesia.
“For patients that played 10 hours or more that we originally asked, which was a small group, we were able to see their delirium risk went down by more than 60%,” Dr. Humeidan said.
Humeidan says not all who took part could play for 10 hours -- but says those who played any brain games at all -- saw some benefit.
“I think that the potential for this is extraordinary. it’s easy to do. The patients seem to enjoy it,” she said.
But there’s still work to be done.
Humeidan says future studies will focus on how brain games help delirium and how much patients should play to reap the full benefit.
The study’s researchers say doing anything to keep the brain active -- including crossword puzzles or even reading for an hour each day -- would likely help prevent delirium and improve your mind.