Is Your Brain Puzzled?

It is important to keep your brain active while you are going through chemotherapy. We all get “chemo brain,” and it’s especially true if you tumor has set up camp in your neuro region. My speech therapist encouraged me to do word puzzles (crosswords, fill-in, wordsearch . . .) in multiple platforms. One benefit of doing a crossword on paper is that you are exercising multiple parts of your brain. The cerebral cortex manages speech and reading comprehension. Another part of your brain controls the mobility of your hand while you write.

I love old-school puzzles in the newspaper or a book, but phone and tablet apps help my help me utilize another part of the brain. Isn’t it ironic? (cue Alanis Morissette). Here are a apps you can download for free on your smartphone or tablet.

  • Wordsearch: The app is pretty straight forward. You get a list of words that grouped by categories. The puzzle get more challenging the more you play the game.
  • Word Swipe:
  • The puzzles in Word Swipe are also categorized by theme, such as world landmarks, 1960’s pop culture, and famous authors. Every day there is a famous quote to decipher, and it’s a great way to learn about history/geology.

  • Memorama: This is a basic memory game. You turn cards over to find a match. It’s as easy as that.
  • Onet Connect and Onnect: Both of these game require you to find matching pictures. They’re different that Memorama because the pictures are face-up and you have to able to connect the pictures with just three lines. Onet Connect shows the same pictures each level, but the tiles start to move around. Onnect is similar, but the pictures change every level. You can replay the same level to increase the speed of your matching. I like to play the levels at least three or four times before I move onto the next level.

Video games can also exercise your mind.

  • I love Big Brain Academy for Wii. It has several memory games, as well multiple visual recognition puzzles. The utilize five types of learning: math, memory, matching, visual. You can play the game alone to build up strength. You can also play with multiple players to encourage a sense of competition.
  • Tetris a great throwback to the 1980’s is also available on Wii and the Amazon Firestick. This game utilizes space recognition and logic. You have to think about how different moves will set you up for future moves. It’s fun to play solo, or with a partner.
  • There are games to download to your phone or tablet that are similar to Tetris. 1010!, Flow Free, and Unblock Me both focus on block placement.
  • I change back and forth between games so that I don’t get bored. Think about going to the gym, or preparing for a marathon. Different types of physical exercise focus on specific parts of your body. Wee should take care of our brain as much as we tend to the rest of the body.

    I hope these tips can help you maintain your brain, your body, and emotional strength healthy are you travel through your cancer treatment. And if you don’t have cancer, we all need to keep our brains in check. So keep a puzzle on hand – even if it’s an old school paperback puzzle. There’s still value in the classic forms of reading.

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The Common Link

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, this week’s puzzle deals with common links. We’ve all heard of the six degrees of separation. Lucky for you, this puzzle isn’t that complicated. There are only two degrees of separation between the people/objects in this game. For example, the link between the words “marching” and “saw” is band. Click here to download the puzzle and see if you can identify the common link.

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The Benefits of Speech Therapy

I was diagnosed with a Stage 3 astrocytoma brain tumor three years ago. While many brain tumors can be surgically removed, my tumor is located in the cerebral cortext, which controls speech and reading comprehension, as well as short-term memory. My brain surgeon removed as little brain material as possible to confirm the diagnosis so that my brain would be the least compromised.

One thing that helped me recover from the effects of radiation is speech therapy. Speech therapy is about more than retrieving words. It includes strategies to retain information (secondary memory) and finding ways to communicate when you can’t remember words that make you stumble.  My speech therapist has challenged me to do at least one hour of mental exercises a day. I’m a nerd, so this is a great excuse to do crossword puzzles, wordsearches, and memory exercises. I’m such a word puzzle junky that I’ve decided to start writing my own puzzles and sharing them with others. I’ll be sharing puzzles on my blog. I you have as much fun as I do getting a neuro workout!

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