Zurich/Schindellegi SZ - Cognitive motor training increases attention span, concentration, memory and orientation in people suffering from dementia. These findings are the result of work conducted by a research group that included members from ETH Zurich and its spin-off Dividat.

A clinical trial has for the first time shown that cognitive motor training in the form of games can improve the mental and physical capacities of people suffering from severe forms of dementia. The training platform used for this purpose, Senso, was developed by Dividat, a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) based in Schindellegi in the canton of Schwyz.

Eling de Bruin from the Institute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport at ETH Zurich, who was previously the doctoral supervisor for Dividat co-founder Eva van het Reve, was involved in the study carried out in Belgium, according to a press release issued by the university. Their collaboration resulted in the creation of the Senso training platform. The task for users of the platform is to follow a sequence of movements with their feet on a screen. A floor panel measures their steps, weight displacement and balance.

A group of dementia patients over the age of 85 from a Belgian care home “trained for 15 minutes with the Dividat Senso three times a week for eight weeks, while the second group listened to and watched music videos of their choice”, according to de Bruin in explaining the study design.  

According to ETH Zurich, the result was clear:  training with the Senso platform strengthened the training group’s capacities such as attention span, concentration, memory and orientation. The results are “highly encouraging”, de Bruin says. In contrast, the control group deteriorated further over the eight-week period.

At present, his research group are working on replicating the results of this pilot study for people in which dementia precursors have been identified. The aim here is to delve deeper into the brain’s neural processes.

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