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Cognitive mobile games for memory impaired older adults

Sari Merilampi (Dr Sari Merilampi is Head of Well-being Enhancing Technology Research Group and a Researcher, based at the Energy and Construction Department, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, Pori, Finland.)
Andrew Sirkka (Dr Andrew Sirkka is a Principal Lecturer, based at the Health Department, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, Pori, Finland.)
Mirka Leino (Mirka Leino is a Researcher and a Lecturer, based at Energy and Construction Department, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, Pori, Finland.)
Antti Koivisto (Antti Koivisto is a Researcher, based at Service Business Department, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, Pori, Finland.)
Enda Finn (Enda Finn is a Lecturer in Computing and a Researcher, based at Computing and Mathematics Department, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dundalk, Ireland.)

Journal of Assistive Technologies

ISSN: 1754-9450

Article publication date: 9 December 2014




Cognitive self-rehabilitation lacks updated means and tools. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the effect of cognitively simulating mobile games on the cognitive skills and recreation of older people with memory impairment.


Mobile games that require cognitive skills were developed. The games were tested by memory-impaired older adults, average age of 90. Gaming interventions took place for three months on a daily basis. Game outcomes were automatically recorded and user feedback was collected by interviews. The progress of the testees was also evaluated by means of Trial Making Test A.


Improvement in game scores was found. Other significant effects of game play were enhanced recreation and self-managed activity level. Game play did not have any effect on the traditional Trail Making Test results but the results of the Trail Making game showed improvement. The Trail Making game also showed a large variance in daily scores, which implies that performing just a single Trail Making Test might lead to misreading a person's condition.

Research limitations/implications

The results are an encouragement for conducting further testing (on a larger test group, over a longer time) and continuing with game development for cognitively impaired older adults. A similar game trial will also be arranged for a younger population with better overall health condition.

Practical implications

New business opportunities are also possible in game development and gaming services.

Social implications

Games have the potential for self-rehabilitation and to support extending independent living at home.


The paper provides a synopsis of novel cognitive recreation tools, an analysis of their effect and user feedback from professional staff as well as potential new ideas for game developers.



Merilampi, S., Sirkka, A., Leino, M., Koivisto, A. and Finn, E. (2014), "Cognitive mobile games for memory impaired older adults", Journal of Assistive Technologies, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 207-223.



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