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Feasibility and efficacy of cognitive telerehabilitation in early Alzheimer’s disease: a pilot study

Authors Jelcic N, Agostini M, Meneghello F, Bussè C, Parise S, Galano A, Tonin P, Dam M, Cagnin A

Received 21 May 2014

Accepted for publication 16 July 2014

Published 24 September 2014 Volume 2014:9 Pages 1605—1611


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Nela Jelcic,1 Michela Agostini,1 Francesca Meneghello,1 Cinzia Bussè,2 Sara Parise,2 Antonietta Galano,2 Paolo Tonin,1 Mauro Dam,1 Annachiara Cagnin1,2

1Foundation IRCCS San Camillo Hospital, Laboratory of Kinematics and Robotics and Laboratory of Psychology, Neurorehabilitation Department, Venice, Italy; 2Department of Neurosciences: Sciences NPSRR, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

Background: This pilot study compared the effects of lexical-semantic stimulation through telecommunication technology (LSS-tele) with in-person LSS (LSS-direct) and unstructured cognitive treatment (UCS) in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease.
Methods: Twenty-seven patients with Alzheimer’s disease in the very early stage (Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE] >26/30) were divided into three groups: seven patients received LSS-tele treatment, ten received standard LSS-direct intervention, and ten participants underwent UCS as control condition. Intervention treatments consisted of two weekly sessions of LSS (through teleconference or face to face depending on group assignment) or UCS exercises administered to small groups throughout a 3-month period. The main outcome measures were changes of global cognitive performance, language abilities, and memory function. Secondary outcome measures were changes in attention, working memory, executive functions, and visual-spatial abilities tests.
Results: The mean MMSE score improved significantly in LSS-tele and LSS-direct treatments; LSS-tele improved language abilities, both phonemic and semantic, and stabilized delayed verbal episodic memory with respect to an improved performance after the LSS-direct intervention and to a memory decline observed in the control group. Improvement was not achieved in any neuropsychological test score after UCS.
Conclusion: Clinical application of telecommunication technology to cognitive rehabilitation of elderly patients with neurodegenerative cognitive impairment is feasible and may improve global cognitive performance. Technical aspects to ameliorate efficacy of delivery may further improve its impact on domain-specific cognitive abilities.

Keywords: cognitive rehabilitation, telecommunication, telemedicine

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