Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Could Neuroplasticity be a step towards the healing we want for our family members?


#1

The more I read about nueroplasticity the more I think its important to our family members with scz.

Science has proven that the brain can work new paths within itself to get around “broken down” areas. We know that scz does actual damage to the physical brain. The possibility of our family members being able to push their brains into working better is credible.

In the video the doctor talks about testing they did using video gaming as a control group. (I wondered what games they were playing that had such detrimental results) The group that used materials created for the purpose of brain improvement had surprisingly positive results.

I did encourage my son when his one remaining interest was video games in his room. He always played a variety of games, puzzle games, rpg puzzle games and shooter games. At one point he wanted a special microphone to be able to try to verbalize in online group game playing. According to him, his CBT therapist had encouraged him to try to verbalize in gaming. (yes, at the time I wondered if I was being “played”)

His doctors always comment that he has retained a good deal of cognition, now I have to wonder if the video puzzle games were responsible. He would write progress notes (cheat sheets) in a notepad that he kept next to his gaming desk. The first time I saw the tiny handwritten notes I thought they might be like the notes he wrote when he first became ill - just repetitive nonsense - but no, these notes were “trailmarkers” for his puzzle video games.

Give it a go, please, go to the thread "CBT Plus Cognitive Remediation May Improve Work Outcomes in Schizophrenia"if you don’t have time to watch them all, watch the LAST video, read about neuroplasticity at wikipedia, check out the site @gardencat found www.brainhq.com for free exercises. Sorry - I have not been able to pull that last video over to this thread.

Everyone is always asking what to do once they are medicated and still not doing anything at home - I really believe this should be step one -try to get their brains working in a different direction than the scz taken it. I think this is real.


#2

Anything that can give some hope as a boost to recovery is welcome. I will try to study this.


#3

I first heard of Neuroplasticity a few years ago when they had adds on TV about “brain games”. I don’t see how memorization games and speed math really help someone in a broad way, but the theory has probably evolved since I first heard of it.
For videogames:
As a gamer who spends about 5 to 10 hours a week playing various games…
After a player has master the basic mechanics of any given games, the learning stops and it becomes a repetition of the same basic tasks over and over. There have been very few (none that I can think of off the top of my head) that aren’t designed this way.
And if someone is using an online gaming community as their fulfillment for social interaction, they are selling themself very, very short.
After a few days, most games become equivalent to watching TV in my mind.


#4

#5

Did you read up and get current on the subject of neuroplasticity and watch the video?

Our family members can be greatly greatly, impaired when it comes to following sequences, so many of them have lost their cognitive skills - just trying different things to get a “box” to open in a video game can be a real reach. The struggle to get brains physically damaged from scz to re-engage in cognition is a much bigger struggle than we can probably conceive. My first thought would be that “shooter” games can’t be of much use But, when someone practices speaking to strangers through an online game, it could be step one towards getting out into public again. Gosh, how I well I remember the garbled and mumbled speech years, couldn’t say for sure that the verbalizing in online gaming was what led to normal speech again, but it did give my son the courage to try talking to strangers in public with the support of his therapist and cognitive behavior training.

His therapist appeared to apply “Kung Fu Panda” training to challenge him to speak to strangers. The slightest bit of conversation with a stranger can be a milestone for some of our family members - particularly for our family members who suffer from the paranoid version. Some of them are absolutely terrified of any sort of interaction.

The science behind the brain and its ability to develop go-arounds is solid science. You can even use the old, old, old example of the researches who put devices on people to turn their normal vision upside down - people’s brains consistently will eventually correct the image and turn it right side up even though the image the brain is being given is still upside down.

Neuroplasticiity has been found to be real science in many area of physical rehabilitation.

Our Family to Family teacher pointed out that many of the folks who suffer from scz revert back to watching cartoons. She said the plots and the jokes were simpler and easier for them to follow. The symptom isn’t a love of cartoons, its a limitation of their cognition.

Watching tv may be simple for you, its not so simple for many of our family members.


#6

Yes, we know so little about scz, they have focused so much on treating the symptoms.


#7

@hope
You definitely aren’t a fool!
The points you made about the difficulty of “simple” tasks really make a lot of sense.
Considering the challenges you described, the interest and drive to communicate with other players, the need for precise timing and complex fine motor control, spacial awareness, and the ability to memorize are probably all big benefits your son can get from video games.

I was way too dismissive because I didn’t understand the frame of reference.
Sz / SzA is a degenerative disease.
Promoting using basic cognitive functions like memory, spacial awareness, fine motor control, and communication definitely makes sense as part of a treatment plan.


#8

LOL - well thanks @wreklus - I do try;)

To really laymen it up, even more so than the doctor kindly does in the video, research has shown that the brain, whose sole job is processing the information it receives, will attempt to use a different part of the brain if a damaged part is not usable. They do know now that the brain is capable of remapping itself over a person’s entire lifetime. How to stimulate that remapping is the question.

For our family members any amount of brain function regained is valuable.

I think we have to use the Kung Fu Panda approach - which is what Dr Amador emphasizes (minus the panda) - we have to use their interests (if an interest can surface) to help them regain function. We need them to try to use their brains through the noise and confusion the scz is causing.


#9

@hope
That makes a lot of sense.
(And I can appreciate the Kung Fu Panda reference!)

I agree wholeheartedly that when we face big challenges, we have to figure out how to break them up into small, measurable goals.

I personally have a lot that I take for granted (for that is the human condition, in my opinion). I can be guilty of being ignorant to a lot of struggles.

But if mastering communication, promoting short term memory, enhancing problem solving, and practicing spacial awareness is the goal;
I think playing a varied set of video games can really help.
The combination you described of shooters (which require teamwork, reflex and situational awareness), RPG (which often involve complex storylines that put most novels to shame), and puzzle (for planning and visualization of potential outcomes)… That’s a pretty solid way to practice some fundamentals.
I’d add the caveat that a person can’t spend all day playing videogames. One has to be physically engaged as well. But if it’s part of a treatment plan, it’s definitely a good tool.

For Neuroplasticity working toward similar goals,
I don’t know the methods or the science to it. But it definitely wouldn’t hurt as part of a bigger treatment plan.