Playing brain games before surgery may reduce your risk of delirium after your operation, a new study says. The findings were published online Nov. 11, 2020 in the journal JAMA Surgery. Just as you can prepare your body for surgery, you can do the same for your brain by keeping it active and challenged through something called “neurobics,” according to Ohio State University researchers. Delirium, a post-surgery complication especially common in older patients, causes mental confusion associated with longer hospital stays, slower recovery and an increased risk of death. In their study, researchers gave an electronic tablet loaded with a brain game app to 268 people scheduled for major surgery requiring general anesthesia. All were 60 or older. The games targeted memory, speed, attention, flexibility and problem-solving, and patients were asked to play games for an hour a day in the days before their operation. “Patients who practiced neurobics were 40% less likely to experience postoperative delirium than those who did not, and the results improved the more hours they played,” Humeidan said in a university news release. Compared to patients who didn’t play the games, the risk of delirium after surgery was 61% lower among those who played 10 hours or more, and more than 50% lower among those who played for five to 10 hours.

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