International Journal of Nursing and Health Care Research (ISSN: 2688-9501)

Research Article

Effect of Brain-Stimulating Games and Physical Activity on Cognitive Functions in Dementia in Calabar, Nigeria

Mildred E John1*, Edidiong E John2, Uduak E Archibong3, Florence A Nandi4, Sifon-Abasi E John5

1Department of Nursing Science, College of Medical Sciences, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria

2Department of Family Medicine, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo, Nigeria

3Centre for Inclusion and Diversity, University of Bradford, Bradford, United Kingdom

4Deanwood Care Home, Warren Road, Woodingdean, Brighton, BN2 6DX, United Kingdom

5Department of Community Medicine, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo, Nigeria

Corresponding Author*: Mildred E. John, Department of Nursing Science, College of Medical Sciences, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria

Received Date: 22 September, 2021

Accepted Date: 01 October, 2021

Published Date: 05 October, 2021


Introduction: Dementia prevalence has increased in Nigeria in the last two decades, and its challenges have become more visible. Dementia is poorly understood in the population, so older individuals with symptoms of cognitive impairment are commonly branded ‘insane’ or ‘possessed by evil spirits.’ This has resulted in stigmatization, rejection, neglect, and abandonment of the affected. Emerging non-pharmacological treatment options like music, dance, brain games, and physical exercises are evidential for improving cognitive functions in older people with dementia. However, studies on such alternative procedures in dementia are scarce in Nigeria. This study determined the short-term effects of brain-stimulating games and physical activities on five cognitive functions in people with mild dementia in, Calabar, Nigeria.

Methods: Mixed method design was used to collect data from 21 participants (13 older people with mild dementia and 8 caregivers). Participants with dementia were engaged in both brain-stimulating games and supervised physical activities for 12 weeks. Quantitative data were collected (pre- and post-intervention) using a validated 32-items tool which assessed 5 cognitive functions, and were analyzed on IBM-SPSS 20.0. Qualitative data were collected from caregivers through structured openended interviews, and thematic content analysis was done using NVivo 10.

Results: Scores on all assessed cognitive functions showed that mentally stimulating games and physical activity interventions positively and significantly influenced cognitive functions in patients with mild dementia (p<0.05). Three themes emerged from qualitative data, and caregivers reported significant changes in mood, memory and attention span of the participants with dementia.

Conclusion: A combination of mentally stimulating games and exercises improved cognitive functions in older people with mild dementia. Findings have both local and global implications for enhancing social engagement, self-esteem and wellbeing of people with dementia. Further studies should determine the effect of these interventions on people with severe dementia; and the effect of individual interventions (physical activity, or brain-stimulating games) on cognitive functions.

Keywords: Brain-stimulating games; Dementia; Physical activity; Cognitive function

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