Background: In Parkinson's Disease (PD), cognitive dysfunctions which can reduce patients' quality of life occur frequently. Data on non-pharmacological intervention effects on cognitive functions in patients with PD are rare. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of different cognitive group trainings (structured vs. unstructured) on cognition, depression, and quality of life in non-demented PD patients.
Methods: In this randomized controlled trial, 65 non-demented patients with PD according to UK Brain Bank criteria (Hoehn & Yahr I-III) were allocated to one of two cognitive multi-component treatments ("NEUROvitalis", a structured training, or the unstructured training "Mentally fit" with randomly assembled cognitive tasks, each including 12 group-sessions à 90 min over 6 weeks) or a waiting list control group (CG). A neuropsychological test battery was performed before and after the training.
Results: Compared to the CG, patients from the "NEUROvitalis" group improved in short-term memory (word list learning "Memo": p < .01) and working memory (digit span reverse from "DemTect": p < .05), whereas depression scores where reduced in the "Mentally fit" group (Beck Depression Inventory-II: p < .05). The "NEUROvitalis" group improved significantly more in working memory than the "Mentally fit" group (DemTect: p < .05).
Discussion: Cognitive and affective functions can be improved by cognitive trainings in PD patients. Specific effects (e.g. on memory and working memory versus depression) seem to be dependent on the type of training. Further research is needed to define long-term effects and the efficacy in PD patients with different extent of cognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Keywords: Cognitive training; Depression; Intervention; Parkinson's disease.
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