Background: This project proposes a pilot study to investigate the positive healing effects of cognitive training with simple arithmetic and reading aloud on elderly postsurgical patients. Elderly patients undergoing surgery have an increased risk of Postoperative Cognitive Decline (POCD), a condition in which learning, memory, and processing speed is greatly reduced after surgery. Since elderly patients are more likely to exhibit symptoms of POCD, the incidence is increasing as the population receiving surgery has aged. Little effort has been expended, however, to find treatments for POCD. Learning therapy, which consists of a combination of reading aloud and solving simple arithmetic problems, was developed in Japan as a treatment for Alzheimer's Disease to improve cognitive functions. Because patients with Alzheimer's Disease experience similar issues as those with POCD in learning, memory, and processing speed, a cognitive intervention based on the learning-therapy treatments used for Alzheimer's Disease could show advantageous outcomes for those at risk of POCD. Methods/design: Cognitive function will be measured before and after surgery using three different tests (Mini-Mental Status Exam, Frontal Assessment Battery, and Cogstate computerized tests). Subjects will be randomly divided into two groups-one that receives a Simple Calculation and Reading Aloud intervention (SCRA) and a waitlisted control group that does not receive SCRA. To measure cognition before and after the intervention, the previously mentioned three tests will be used. The obtained data will be analyzed using statistical tests such as ANCOVA to indicate whether the cognitive intervention group has made improvements in their cognitive functions. In addition, questionnaires will also be administered to collect data on mental and emotional statuses. Discussion: This report will be the first pilot study to investigate the beneficial effects of SCRA on elderly surgical patients. Previous studies have shown sufficient evidence on the effectiveness of learning therapy in healthy elderly people and in those with Dementia. Therefore, this study will clarify whether SCRA can improve cognitive function in the more specialized group of elderly surgical patients. Trial registration: University Hospital Medical Information Network Clinical Trial Registry, UMIN000019832. Registered on 18 November 2015.
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