MONDAY, Nov. 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Preoperative brain exercises may lower the risk for postoperative delirium, according to a study published online Nov. 11 in JAMA Surgery.

Michelle L. Humeidan, M.D., Ph.D., from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, and colleagues assessed whether cognitive prehabilitation reduces the incidence of postoperative delirium among older adults. Patients aged 60 years and older undergoing major, noncardiac, non-neurological surgery under general anesthesia were randomly assigned to either electronic, tablet-based preoperative cognitive exercise (125 patients) or usual care (126 patients).

The researchers report that 97 percent of the patients in the intervention group completed some brain exercise (median, 4.6 hours). The delirium rate among control participants was 23 percent, compared with 14.4 percent in the intervention group. After exclusion of four patients in the intervention group who did not attempt any cognitive exercise, the delirium rate was 13.2 percent (16 of 121). Among patients with delirium across the study groups, there were no differences in postoperative delirium onset day or duration or total delirium-positive days.

“Modification of postoperative delirium risk with brain exercise remains a novel concept in the early stages of clinical study, and more investigation appears warranted based on this work, including investigation into the ideal activities, timing, and effective dosage,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the medical technology industry.

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