While your patients are seeing you for therapy x times a week, there is ample time outside the clinic to train cognitive function and practice important life skills, such as listening and following a conversation.
Often, patients do not engage in therapeutic activity outside of treatment hours because they do not know how: they do not have someone to practice with or they have trouble making connections between what they do in therapy and how it applies to their lives.
This is where assigned practice comes in.
Assigned practice gives the therapist a way to have their patient work on building back the foundation of important life skills while at home. The therapist designs a treatment plan of exercises available on the digital platform(s) they utilize and instructs the patient on what to do for each exercise.
Here is how HappyNeuron Pro works to assign home training.
In the Exercises tab of the patient file, you can choose which exercises this patient should work on.
This will allow the patient to focus on tasks that serve the training plan you design for them. and ensure their experience is most adapted to their medical condition and abilities.
Enabling the right tasks will help your patients focus on what is useful for them.
To make an exercise available or unavailable to a specific patient, click On or Off. Only exercises that are turned on will be available to that patient.
You can also change the initial difficulty level for each exercise to ensure the challenge level is adapted to the patient’s abilities.
The Workouts tab of the patient file is where you can design a training plan and ensure your patients get exactly what you want them to have.
First, turn On the Generate Workouts option to have workouts created for your patient.
You can then set specific training days by clicking days you would like your patients to complete assignments. You can also select the duration they perform their take-home therapy, as well as the number of repetitions. These settings will be completely up to your intervention plan and can be modified as your patient progresses in their therapy.
Your patient will now automatically get workouts consisting of the exercises that you have turned On for the duration you have set.
Automatic Workouts help easily assign specific work outside of the sessions
To help with engagement and compliance, enter the patient’s email in the patient file to have our program send email reminders to your patients when a workout is available.
Reminders help patients stay engaged and complete their assigned workouts.
Your patients will then receive an email each time a new workout is created and they will just have to click in the email to access the workout you’ve prepared, from any device and location.
Emails provide very easy access to the workouts you assign.
If you want more control over the number and order of the exercises, as well as their difficulty settings, you can use the Scheduled Exercises list on the right of the page.
Customizing the workouts is a great way to make sure your patients get exactly what you want.
You will want to save your exercise plan as a template, as you would have to reupload these exercises each time your patient is assigned to do them. By creating a template, you will have a pre-made battery that you have made for your patient that is one-click away from being uploaded.
Templates will allow you to re-use your training plans.
In the Results tab of a patient file, you will be able to easily track how your patients have engaged with the workouts at home, what their results were and how they have progressed.
This will help you follow-up with your patients when they come back and discuss their challenges and successes.
When your patient performs their assigned exercises, it is important to provide positive feedback as this keeps your patient motivated and engaged during the therapeutic process. A simple “good-job on doing all of your exercises!” will do.
Additionally, taking time with your patient and discussing how and why they are doing their assigned exercise plans also encourages compliance and motivation. Focusing on how a patient is completing their exercises tells you not only the thought process, but specifically what issues remain in their cognitive function.
For example, a patient can complete a digitized Tower of Hanoi quickly but end up with the wrong solution. This could be because the patient is being impulsive or feels rushed. As the therapist, you would want to teach your patient to take a step back and think about the logic behind the task (i.e. do you think a little disc can support a big disc? Why don’t we think about building the base of the towers first?). This will teach them a more effective approach to solving the task at hand, which you will want them to adapt into their cognitive tool kit.
The reinforcement of these strategies comes with the home practice, where you can see the results of the patient’s progress and tune your treatment plan according to where the patient is continuing to struggle at home.
This is not a tab within HappyNeuron Pro, but another important reason of why you assign home practice is to help your patient bridge what they are doing in the clinic to real life.
Using the Towers of Hanoi example, your patient may have difficulty in the real-world planning to get together with friends. Using the digital version of the Towers of Hanoi, you can explain to your patient “this exercise will teach you to think step by step about what you need to do. Like making plans with a friend, you need to go step-by-step in deciding which friend you would like to see, what you and your friend will do and where you will meet”.
Alongside the home practice, you will want to take time and do real world practice with your patient, such as going through the steps of how they would make a plan to meet a friend for dinner. In addition to the digital exercises, you would set a goal that they will make a plan with a friend in a specific amount of time (say 2 weeks). Have your patient discuss with you what strategies they used to make a plan, and how they would change or continue using those strategies to make future plans with friends. You can then assign your patient new exercises or make existing ones more difficult so that they can continue practicing effective strategies and learn new ones.
Being able to access therapy and practice cognitive skills from home is an innovative concept. In HappyNeuron Pro, the therapist has the ability to view their patient results at any time and adjust their treatment plan as necessary. The home-based practice also allows for the provider to justify continued care for their patient if their patient is still struggling or just beginning to make headway. Lastly, it also allows the provider to communicate more effectively with the caregiver about what their loved one is working on and how they can be a part of their therapy and help them succeed.
By having your patient practice and sharpen specific cognitive skills at home, you can help them develop life skills that engage multiple domains of cognition. This ultimately will lead to the final goal of therapy, which is having your patient live a more independent and healthy life.
Page last updated on May 15,2020
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Kyra Minichan – SLP – The Cognitive Emporium – Hendersonville, TN – USA
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Our favorite thing is to be able to break down into core cognitive domains, knowing every task the patient is doing touches upon overlapping cognitive skills, and it gives participants a sense of what skills they are working on.
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This program is something that really can benefit the well-being of the clients we serve. It gives us more resources and tools to help people.
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It was just enjoyable to see the results right at the moment. So once a patient is done with the group, I was able to get the results immediately and see what they did well on and what needed to still be improved. HappyNeuron Pro is just easy and accessible.
Hector Sigler – Director of Operations – Family Recovery Center – Lantana, FL – USA
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