Bingo Boosts Cognitive Performance in People with Degenerative Disorders

innerdisease128032016Degenerative disorders are devastating. Parkinson’s disease, a chronic and progressive movement disorder, affects nearly one million people in the United States alone. For those individuals, treatment options are limited. Parkinson’s, along with other cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s, presently have no cure, and their symptoms continue to progress and worsen over time. These neurological disorders are particularly common on the elderly community, with Parkinson’s usually affecting individuals over the age of 65. While several medications are currently in use to treat and control symptoms, management of cognitive conditions remains an inexact science.

In recent years, researchers have begun looking beyond the pharmaceutical industry for solutions that can improve the quality of life of people living with debilitating degenerative disorders. The University of California, San Francisco conducted a study that found that playing computer-based physical therapy games can help people with Parkinson’s improve their balance. According to the results of the University study, more than half of the subjects in the project showed small improvements in walking speed, balance and stride length. With these positive results in hand, it was only a matter of time before researchers broadened the search for games with potentially constructive side effects for individuals with progressive cognitive disorders.

In 2002, researchers found one game – a favorite in nursing homes, senior centers and assisted-living facilities around the globe – that could be linked to enhanced cognitive performance. The game in question, of course, is bingo. As part of this study, researchers found that high-contrast, large bingo cards boosted thinking and playing skills for players with a number of cognitive difficulties and visual perception problems. By playing bingo, senior citizens and others living with degenerative disorders exercise their brains and remain socially engaged, effectively keeping their minds healthy.
Apparently, not all bingo games are created equal for individuals with Parkinson’s. Researchers used computer-generated bingo cards that could be manipulated for brightness, size and contrast, allowing them to study the effects of these changes on play. With certain contrast and size settings, researchers reported significant improvements in performance. Amongst individuals with mild dementia, high-contrast, large cards promoted performance levels that were on par with the levels of healthy peers. Unfortunately, the results were less promising for people with more severe dementia.

Much of the improved performance observed in these tests was attributed to boosted contrast. According to more than two decades of studies from Alice Cronin-Golomb and Grover C. Gilmore, low contrasts have a demonstrably negative effect on individuals with Parkinson’s. When driving, weather events such as fog, which dramatically decreases contrast, can have a significant effect on ability. Similarly, serving food that’s colored in contrast with the plate is often associated with dementia patients eating more. To put it simply, events with boosted contrast have been shown to slow the progression of degenerative conditions, allowing individuals to live independently longer while performing daily tasks and enjoying life.

Now that we’ve established the health benefits of a few games of bingo, it’s a great time to dust off the old dauber and get into the game. What? You’re unfamiliar with the rules? Well, you’re in luck. We’ve got just enough extra time to take a basic look at the rules of everyone’s favorite game at the local senior home. First, there’s the card. Cards are made up of a five by five grid with the letters B-I-N-G-O across the top. The center of the card is typically a free space, meaning that you could need as little as four correct numbers to win the game. Not bad, right?

After you get your card and the game begins, the caller will announce a letter followed by a number. An example of this may be ‘B-1’. At this point, you scour your card to see if B-1 is on board. If it is, take your dauber, pen or other writing utensil and mark through it. That’s the first step toward a bingo. By definition, bingo is versatile, so the way that you win your particular game may vary. However, a common way to win is by landing five squares in a row. This could be horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Just keep listening to the caller until you complete your winning combination.
When you’ve got the right combination, the fun begins. Stand up, and shout, “Bingo,” at the top of your lungs. The louder your proclaim victory, the better. Remember, if you’re playing at a retirement home, chances are high that at least a few of the players may be a bit hard of hearing. After an official verifies your win, you’ll be free to claim your prize before settling in for another game. In many cases, bingo tournaments can last for hours, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t land a win in the first few games. You’ll get there eventually.

Whether you’ve got a loved one who’s suffering from a degenerative condition or simply like to play bingo, there are few games that unite people in a way that’s comparable to this classic pastime. If you want to play a few rounds, but there’s no bingo hall in the area, the power of the internet is your ticket to bingo glory. 123BingoOnline offers non-stop bingo action for enthusiasts from a long list of countries around the globe. From the comforts of your own home, you’ll be free to experience the rush of virtually daubing a square, and, if you’re lucky, you may even get to shout bingo. Of course, the other players won’t be able to hear you in an online game, but don’t let that stop you from putting your lungs to the test!

Degenerative disorders are among the most devastating medical conditions on the planet. For those affected, an opportunity to improve quality of life is an opportunity that’s simply too good to pass up. Give bingo a try if you’ve got loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Remember to use high contrast cards, and positive results could be waiting in the wings.