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13 Stimulating Games for Brain Injury Patients That Enhance Recovery

list of useful games for brain injury patients

These games for brain injury patients offer fun ways to enhance your cognitive skills and speed up your recovery.

Unlike normal cognitive exercises, brain games keep people more engaged, which means the skills you develop in the game are more likely to stick with you in other areas of your life.

Best Games for Brain Injury Patients

The following are a few games that will strengthen your cognitive function.

None of these games were designed exclusively for brain injury recovery, but they all activate important mental skills that you need to live independently.

We wanted to include something for every TBI patient, no matter their cognitive level, so we organized this list by difficulty, from easiest to most complex.

Some of these games might be too hard for you right now, or they might be too easy! But hopefully you can find a few that work for you.

1. Go Fish (and Other Card Games)

Playing card games for brain injury patients

Card games like “Go Fish” are perfect for severe TBI patients who need to relearn skills like memory and pattern recognition.

They require some strategy, but not so much that it will become frustrating.

As you improve your skills, you can try harder card games like Solitaire or Hearts.

2. UNO

UNO is another easy game for brain injury patients.

All you have to do is match a card in your hand with the card on the table until you get rid of all your cards. But you have to do so before your opponent!

It’s a great way to improve your color and number recognition, and there’s even some strategy and planning skills involved.

Bonus: Download our free TBI Rehab Exercises ebook. (Link will open a pop-up that will not interrupt your reading.)

3. Scattergories

This game is great for improving your organization, recall and word-finding abilities!

It’s especially good for people with language difficulties, such as aphasia.

The goal of the game is to name as many items in a category as you can in two minutes.

If you’re not ready for the pressure of the actual game, you can also just use the cards to quiz yourself without worrying about running out of time.

4. Scrabble

scrabble tiles on board

Scrabble is another game that can boost your word-finding skills.

This game requires a little more effort, because not only are you limited by the tiles in your hand, you also have to use the tiles on the board and build new words off of them.

This exercises several cognitive skills at once, including:

  • memory to think of a word
  • strategy to find the best word for the most points
  • problem-solving to build a word from available letters
  • mental flexibility to adapt if the player before you does something unexpected

All that explains why we consider Scrabble one of the best games for brain injury patients!

5. Jenga

boy playing jenga, another one of the best games for brain injury

This classic party game is perfect for practicing your fine motor skills.

And because you have to remove blocks without toppling the whole tower, it also gives you a chance to improve some other cognitive skills such as attention and planning.

If you find the small blocks too hard to move, Giant Jenga might be a little easier for you.

6. Concentration

You can play this game with any standard deck of cards.

In Concentration, you must lay all the cards face down on the table. Players take turns flipping over cards to find matching pairs, until you pair all the cards.

This game really challenges your memory, since you have to remember where each card to make a pair. That makes it helpful for people trying to improve their short-term memory after brain injury.

7. Mastermind

If you want to improve your logic skills, but aren’t ready for more complicated games like chess or Sudoku, Mastermind is a great alternative!

Your goal is to guess the four-color code that the other person came up with. You’ll need to practice elimination to do that.

This game is challenging, but not too frustrating, and will help you relearn deductive reasoning.

8. Sudoku

Sudoku helps brain injury patients improve their logic

Sudoku is tough, but it’s perfect for improving your number and problem-solving skills.

Each row, column, and square in a Sudoku grid has to be filled out with the numbers 1-9 without any repeats in any row, column, or square.

That sounds complicated at first, but it will get easier the more you do it. There are also different difficulties you can choose, so we recommend starting at the easiest level and working your way up.

9. Chess

hand holding chess piece

Chess is one of the oldest games in history, and there’s a reason it’s stayed popular for centuries. It’s challenging, but not all that complicated, and every game is different.

It also engages nearly every cognitive skill, making it an awesome game for brain injury patients.

Chess challenges your memory, since you must remember what each piece does. It forces you to think both logically and creatively to find the best move.

And finally, it teaches you how to think ahead and plan your strategy.

Because you only play against one player, chess is an easier strategy game than others on this list, and is ideal for TBI patients who might still struggle with focusing on more than one thing at once.

10. Chinese Checkers

chinese checker board

Chinese checkers can be a little bit harder for brain injury patients, because you’re playing against more than one opponent.

The goal of the game is to move all your pegs to the opposite side before the other players. You can only move one peg at a time, so plan carefully!

Like chess, this game can help give your logic and strategy skills a nice boost.

11. Pandemic

This game’s rules are a little too complicated to explain briefly, but it’s a lot of fun and engages a variety of cognitive skills.

Pandemic is a cooperative board game where you have to work with your team to save the world from a killer virus. Each player has a specific role and ability.

Playing Pandemic will help you enhance your executive functioning since you have to learn how to see the big picture and plan several moves ahead.

You also have to keep track of what your teammates do so you don’t make a “deadly” mistake. This also gives you a chance to improve your communication and listening skills.

12. MindTrap

MindTrap is a challenging game that forces you to think outside the box to solve riddles, brain teasers, and picture puzzles.

This one is for TBI patients who really want to push their thinking skills to the next level.

You can play this game by yourself or with others. There are several versions of MindTrap, some more difficult than others, so you can continue improving your skills!

13. Risk

Risk is one of the most challenging games for brain injury patients

This is a classic strategy board game that will force you to put all your mental skills to the test.

It’s by far the hardest game on our list today and should only be played by brain injury patients far along into their recovery.

Your goal is to take over the world, but how you do that is completely up to you. Every decision you make carries a risk that could hurt you later on in the game. So think ahead and choose wisely.

Risk is a long game that might not be suitable for TBI patients with concentration problems. The game is also frustrating at times, so if you struggle with anger you might want to avoid it.

But if you think you’re up for a challenge, Risk will help you refine nearly all of your cognitive abilities.

And that’s it for now! These are the best games for brain injury patients we found that will help strengthen your cognitive skills.

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