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ADHD Natural Treatment: Cogmed Working Memory Training

Hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention are not the only problems faced by children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Studies have shown that they also suffer from various cognitive impairments, and more specifically impairments in working memory - the brain's ability to hold onto a piece of information long enough to accomplish a task. When a child's working memory is affected, he or she finds it difficult to pay attention, ignore extraneous stimuli, remember instructions, and finish assigned tasks.  Sounds a whole lot like ADHD, doesn't it? 

Although prescription medication can affect working memory, its impact is small and short-lived.  For these reasons, Swedish researcher Dr. Torkel Klingberg devised the Cogmed Working Memory Training Program, a software-based program designed to enhance the working memory of children with ADHD. 

Cogmed Working Memory Training can be done at home by purchasing software called RoboMemo, which comes with online support from a qualified Cogmed coach.  A parent will also have to be present to serve as a training aide and supervisor.   The entire program lasts five weeks, with 30- to 45-minute sessions done five days a week.   By the fifth week, children are expected to have substantial improvements in working memory, better academic performance, and decreased inattention and impulsivity.

Basic Cogmed Working Memory Training includes the following:

Interview

The first step of any ADHD treatment program is an interview with parents, which is done over the phone.  The interviewer will ask questions about the child's symptoms and problems before assessing the likelihood of the child benefiting from working memory training.

Start-up session

The coach will make sure that the software is installed and working properly to give the child and parent a good start.

Five-week training and coaching sessions

For the next five weeks, five times a week, children complete a series of exercises designed to stimulate their working memory capacity.   These exercises require the child to remember a sequence of patterns, numbers, and letters.  A trained coach meets the child at the start of the program to explain the procedure, and provides feedback and motivation. As the program continues, the tasks become more challenging, but remain calibrated to the child's level of progress. The coach follows up weekly with the child and parents to discuss results and progress.

Wrap-up session

Once the program has been completed, the coach will evaluate the child's progress and send a training report to the parent. 

A clinical trial by researchers at the University of Notre Dame reports that 75-80% of the participants showed remarkable improvement – that is, a decrease in symptoms – after the five-week program.  Researchers at The Karolinska Institute have shown that Working Memory Training also retrains the brain. They performed MRIs on children before they began the Cogmed Working Memory Training Program and once again after completion, and identified recognizable changes in the children's brains' pre-frontal lobe and parietal regions.  At six-month and one-year follow-up sessions, 80% of the children had retained or improved their working memory gains.
The only downside to the Cogmed Working Memory Training program is that it costs between $1,500 and $2,000, and is not covered by most insurance plans. However, the fee varies according to location and there are Family Pricing packages available. For more information on where to get Cogmed training, visit www.cogmed.com.