Welcome back to our Evidence Series, a set of blog posts that will come out every other week that explain the research behind our tasks! Today we’ll talk about Symbol Matching, and the evidence supporting its use in increasing attention!
Attention is something that we take for granted – as long as we have it. Without attention, it’s rough to get really anything done in a day, whether it’s grocery shopping, writing an email to an old friend, or just reading a blog. Unfortunately, attention is frequently affected when the brain is injured. It is necessary for just about everything we do, from the more complex projects we complete at work to simply having a conversation with a loved one or a friend.
Difficulties with attention can result from brain injuries such as traumatic brain injuries or stroke. It can also exist in the often-referenced ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder), a difficulty common in many young children. There is also a form of attention deficit called ADD (simply attention deficit disorder), which does not involve the hyperactivity, or over stimulation, often associated with ADHD. Many people with ADD can go undiagnosed for years, and may not even know that they have an attention deficit.
Regardless of the root cause of the attention deficit, it can be debilitating. Luckily, there are many varieties of treatment and compensatory strategies available for attention issues. Constant Therapy offers one such task: Symbol Matching. A specific symbol is presented, and the user needs to select all instances of that symbol that occur within an organized presentation of symbols. This process encourages systematic searching and attention to detail, all of which require scanning skills. By developing these scanning skills, and by focusing a person’s attention to detail, attention can be improved. The idea is that by attending to this specific task – and its details – a person’s ability to attend and focus on a specific task will be enhanced, and their overall attention skills will improve.
There is a great paper (Berryman, A. et al. Practical clinical treatment strategies for evaluation and treatment of visual field loss and visual inattention. NeuroRehabilitation, 2010. 27(3): p. 261-8.) on scanning tasks by that provides a meta-analysis (a grouping of various research on a specific topic) on whether scanning tasks are effective.
- Big Picture: Scanning tasks can help improve visual field loss and visual inattention, specifically deficits affecting attention following stroke or traumatic brain injury. These tasks are especially helpful when they accompanied by reduced stress, sharing of information across therapy disciplines, and sensory-motor integration. Sensory-motor integration is frequently referenced in treatment for speech, language, and cognitive deficits, and refers to integrating not only your sensory system (think your 5 senses, sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell) but also your motor system (think anything that needs your muscles). That’s one of the reasons that we love to have you use those fingers in our tasks at Constant Therapy, keeping you tapping away at your device.
Per usual, thank you to all of the phenomenal researchers out there who enable us to provide Constant Therapy users with RESEARCH-BASED, EFFECTIVE tasks that will make a difference in YOUR life!
Ready to focus up and improve your attention capacities? Download Constant Therapy today to get started with our variety of research-based tasks that can address individual communication difficulties. We provide a quick pre-test to determine which tasks would most help you to improve your cognitive and language functions, and a variety of tasks to assist in your recovery. Download Constant Therapy for FREE from the App Store and try it out today!