Cognitive Rehabilitation Exercises | A Guide To Recover Brain Skills

Age is just a number, health can be improved and physical capabilities can be rebuilt. No matter where you currently stand, cognitive rehabilitation exercises will help achieve most of the mental skills lost.

Exercising is good for both physical and mental health. Which is a kind of wealth bigger and more important than any amount of money. There is something for everyone in exercising. Even the cognitive skills are recoverable with exercise.

The brain rehabilitation exercises, also known as cognitive rehabilitation exercises are helpful in recovering from memory, attention, perception, learning, planning, and judgment problems incurred due to brain injury or due to many other reasons.

In this article, you will get to know the type of exercises that are good for cognitive rehabilitation for anyone. The physical activity in these exercises is very little and mostly they are mind games and cognitive trainings good for anyone to practice.

1. Rehabilitation Exercises for Memory Skills

A brain injury can hamper memory skills, but with time those memory skills can be revived.

Listed below are the exercises that can help regain memory skills:

a. Naming Therapy

Naming Therapy is a word finding game designed for aphasia patients. Different memory recall patterns like confrontation naming, responsive naming, phrase completion, repetition, and oral reading get tested in this game.

It is difficult for people with aphasia to find the words and use them in their speech. Naming Therapy is a naming practice exercise that is designed to improve naming and word-finding abilities.

This method is mostly used to treat aphasia patients, but can also be a great way to improve memory in general.

In this exercise, you have to write down a list of general categories (such as countries, foods, occupations, animals, plants, tools, sports, etc.).

Then try to memorize as many items in each category as possible.

If the patient is unable to recognize the word, you can give cues. For example, if they are not able to answer any plant name, you can tell them to think of a garden or lawn, etc.

See the naming therapy app in action in the video below:

b. Picture Recall

Picture recall games determine the ability of a person to remember pictures and patterns. Such recall activities engage the brain and test a person’s short-term memory.

As a result, it activates the area of the brain associated to pattern recognition and recalls.

One such game is playing the card games, which is also a fun way to spend your leisure time effectively.

A basic cards playing game can be as simple as placing two different cards in front of a person and let him view them for 5 seconds.

Then, turn the playing cards face down. Now ask a person to identify the cards that are named (such as point to the King) and recall them.

Playing such games result in a decreased risk of cognitive impairment and improves memory and thinking skills.

c. Card Recall

Playing card games (online or offline) can improve both short-term memory and long-term memory. There are different card games with varying difficulty levels that activate various parts of the brain.

Card games that demand strategy, memory, and attentiveness include bridge, poker, solitaire, gin rummy, and crazy eights.

Pick up any four playing cards in sequence (such as 2, 3, 4, and 5 of clubs). Place them in random order and turn their face down after viewing for 5 seconds.

Turn the playing cards over in sequence (2, then 3, then 4, then 5).

Good brain games require your attention and play a vital role in brain exercise. Thus, these games help in improving brain functionality.

d. Grocery List

Activities that require learning or memorizing things will activate a person’s motor skills and improve memory functioning.

If someone loves to do grocery, memorizing a grocery list will be beneficial for the brain.

When you go to the grocery store, pick 3 or 4 food items and find them without looking on the list. In this way, you will memorize the items.

2. Rehabilitation Exercises for Problem Solving Skills

The goal of brain rehabilitation exercise is to make impaired persons achieve the highest functioning level for maximum independence.

Listed below are the most effective cognitive rehabilitation exercises that help you improve your problem-solving and management skills.

a. Making Change

Don’t get yourself stuck in a daily life rut. Make changes. Accept changes, which can help you try new ways to do the same thing, such as giving a person some coins and telling that which coins makeups 30 cents, 45 cents, etc.

b. Color Sudoku

Playing Color Sudoku increases your brain’s processing speed and functioning. 

Color Sudoku is a good exercise for people having issues manipulating numbers. It helps to rehabilitate the logical functioning of the brain. It helps you to stay sharp.

c. Tower of Hanoi

Tower of Hanoi is one of the best technical brain grooming, neuropsychological evaluating exercises. It helps you in developing cognitive abilities.

The part of the brain involved in the play is the pre-frontal cortex, the anterior portion of the frontal lobe important for the higher cognitive functions and the determination of personality.

Tower of Hanoi puzzle improves neural functioning and helps in developing winning strategies. 

In this game, you need to set colored rings on several pegs to fit a goal. You can move the highest ring on each stick over another stick, but you can move only one ring at a time and never place a bigger ring over a smaller ring. 

This game demands problem-solving skills that engage the brain’s executive functioning. It helps to train executive brain functions by involving logic and problem-solving areas of your brain.

Training in this kind of thinking is helpful as a guide to be used in other problem-solving situations.

See a tutorial of Tower of Hanoi in action in the video below:

d. Chess, Sudoku, and Crossword Puzzles

Chess, Sudoku, and Crosswords are the most popular brain-developing strategic games. They also improve cognitive symptoms related to mental conditions.

Individuals are strongly encouraged to incorporate one of these strategic games for a balanced mind and stronger cognitive ability in their lives.

Crosswords and other brain-stimulating games improve the nervous system, keep your brain active, prevent memory loss problems, and open the door to other puzzles. They are also helpful in recalling words skills.

Such puzzle games require the players to place correct words and letters in their respective rows or columns. Thus, forcing them to observe and plan where the right number or the letter goes.

e. Cognitive Therapy Games

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy games have a specific therapy approach, designed for therapists, educators, counsellors, and the whole family.

It is designed for children and adolescents therapy to be a fun game that supports communication, behavior, and emotional issues.

You may use cognitive training applications to inspire yourself to practice consistently in your brain. The sharper your thinking skills get, the more you do cognitive drills.

3. Attention and Concentration Rehabilitation Exercises

Attention and concentration exercises enhance your ability to observe and focus on many things at the same time.

Different rehabilitation exercises activate various parts of the brain. Sometimes these exercises also require a therapist that helps in performing the game properly.

Listed below are the exercises that boost your memory, focus, and concentration.

a. Repeat Numbers and Letters

Repeat numbers and letters games are aimed to restore the attentional capacity of a person’s brain. They are the physical exercises that involve the therapist’s contacts that measure the attention and mindfulness of the person suffering brain injuries.

In this exercise, the therapist says a slow, steady voice list of letters or numbers and asks the person suffering brain injury to identify each time a certain number or letter is heard on the paper or screen.

Every letter or number he asks or repeats is meant to measure the response and mindfulness of the person. It improves the person’s ability to pay attention and focus on things.

b. Rhythm Matching

Rhythm matching games train for rhythmic skills that serve as a useful exercise in retaining the motor and cognitive functions in patients suffering from cognitive or neuropsychological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, dyslexia, etc.

These exercises also help in increasing the creativity of the brain.

In this game, a person should listen to music attentively and then recognize the instrument shown on the screen.

In another case, one person should tap out a two-to-three-step rhythm with his hand on the table and then ask the person to follow it by repeating the beats.

Listening to some good rhythmic music and repeating it increases your brain’s creative thinking and power.

c. “Add 3, Subtract 7”

Some simple mathematical challenges help in setting yourself and brain memory problems. These mathematical exercises like ‘add 3, subtract 7’ enhance your learning ability and deep thinking.

It increases the brain’s ability to capture and recall think immediately. It helps you in processing and organizing information in your head.

To play ‘add 3, subtract 7’ first, select double-digit number. Then add 3 in it three times and then subtract 7. Then repeat the steps for further results and improvements. For example

  • 14+3+3+3 = 23 – 7= 16
  • 33 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 42 – 7 = 35

And so on.

d. Practice Fine Motor Exercises

Fine motor skills are necessary for performing everyday activities such as writing, buttoning up a shirt, tying shoelaces, using utensils to eat, and cutting with scissors.

They involve the use of small muscles in our fingers, wrists, hands, toes, and feet.

Some fine motor exercises you can practice to improve cognitive functions are:

  • Completing Jigsaw puzzles
  • Flipping playing cards or pages in a magazine or book
  • Practice writing your favourite name, quote, and poem
  • Stacking small blocks or pennies
  • Stretching rubber bands

e. Use Your Non-Dominant Hand

You can use your non-dominant hand for brain exercising. It will strengthen neural connections in your brain. It is similar to physical exercise that grows muscle and improves your body’s functioning.

You can use your non-dominant hand in routine tasks, such as:

  • Applying makeup
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Handling the mouse or remote control
  • Shaving

f. Sit Outside and Journal

Sit, Think, and Reflect.

Try to build your connection with nature. Locate a comfortable place to sit, observe your surroundings and engage your brain.

Then write down everything you smell, see, and hear.

If you are not good at writing, you can build your connection with nature by sketching. For example, you can sketch birds flying high in the sky.

Cognitive Exercises for TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury):

A brain injury is a complex condition that can affect an individual’s cognitive abilities, emotional state, and overall quality of life.

The most common types of brain injuries are concussions, which are caused by hard blows to the head. Brain injuries are often classified as mild, moderate or severe depending on the severity of their symptoms.

Treatments for TBI include medication and cognitive exercises to improve memory skills and overall cognitive abilities.

This section is a list down of different types of cognitive exercises that can help individuals with TBI recover their cognition.

These exercises will help them develop new skills that may have been lost due to the injury or damage that occurred in their brain. These exercises also work to keep these skills sharp so they don’t get worse over time due to a lack of use.

List of Exercises helpful against Traumatic Brain Injury:

  • try new things
  • pay attention to your food
  • seek sensory experiences
  • focus on memorization
  • switch hands
  • draw maps
  • read out loud
  • challenge your motor skills
  • start journaling
  • do math in your mind

Final Word:

The ultimate goal of all the cognitive rehabilitation exercises listed above is to help people improve their neurological condition. To achieve that, there is a need to modify the brain’s neural networks so that people can use their brains in a more functional way.

Brain rehabilitation exercises are helpful for everyone. They are a great way to keep your brain healthy and to prevent age-related cognitive decline.

Solving puzzles, doing Sudoku, playing video games, and reading books are the kind of activities that any person can do at any time and gain the rewards.