Making Cognitive Connections® for individuals living with brain injury and other cognitive challenges
The purpose of the Making Cognitive Connections (formerly PDA 4 Memory) project is to provide training materials for individuals living with brain injuries and other cognitive challenges. Training relates to the use of a smart mobile device (such as a iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android device) as a memory and cognitive prosthetic device. The training materials include books, videos, and quick reference guides designed with the specific needs of those living with brain injury and other cognitive challenges in mind.
We use the PDA/smartphone training, applied in particular to memory compensation techniques, as a relevant, real-life activity. Not only do we teach how to use the device, but we also provide structured exercises to help make cognitive connections between what you are learning to do with the PDA and your life. So we are simultaneously providing general cognitive stimulation, attempting to build specific new neural pathways, preparing you to apply what you are learning to real life, and teaching you a highly effective memory compensation strategy.
From the Introduction to Organize Your Life Using iOS 5 on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch
Making Cognitive Connections
The principals of ID 4 the Web have worked in the field of cognitive remediation for well over 20 years and have designed online curriculum for Web design and accessibility for over 15 years. Our current projects integrate this expertise in cognitive remediation and instructional design, leading to a training approach that we call Making Cognitive Connections. This approach teaches the fundamental technical skills necessary to operate a PDA, smartphone, or similar device while simultaneously drawing a parallel to the cognitive skills that underlie the development of those technical skills. Focusing on the cognitive skills required to use the device—and then having the users apply those same cognitive skills to their everyday lives—makes this approach practical, concrete, relevant, and transferable.
Each of the cognitive skills mentioned below (and many others) are integrated as a common thread throughout the training materials to create the cognitive connections:
- Attention to Detail
- Visual Memory
- Following Directions
- Time Management
Unlike a typical memory workbook or smart mobile device manual, which many users find frustrating and technical, our training material is much more than a reference source; it is consciously structured to be a learning tool for those with cognitive challenges. For each smart device function, users will:
- Learn about what it is and how to do it;
- Follow steps to perform that function on the device;
- Make the cognitive connections by learning what cognitive skills are being used to perform the task; and
- Identify real-life examples from outside the realm of the device which require use of the same cognitive skills.
Benefits of the Making Cognitive Connections Approach
Find out the specific benefits of the Making Cognitive Connections approach for each of the following categories of users:
- Benefits for Users with Cognitive Challenges
- Benefits for Professionals
- Benefits for Caregivers and Family Members
How Did the Making Cognitive Connections Project Get Started?
The Making Cognitive Connections project evolved out of working with students from the Coastline Community College Acquired Brain Injury Program who suffered from severe memory deficits. The students successfully learned to use the PDA as a memory/cognitive prosthetic. We soon found the PDA training could open up opportunities for students to work on a wide array of other cognitive skills. Given students' natural interest in memory, we realized there is no better context for cognitive retraining than within memory compensation training itself, especially if we provide a cognitive connection to their own real-life experience.