BrainStrong Training Experiences

Thousands of U.S. service members face a hidden battle after serving their country: the cascade of effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Over 450,000 individuals were diagnosed between 2000 and 2022, and these injuries often cast a long shadow. Meanwhile, an estimated 2 million in the USA, and a lot more worldwide experience neurotrauma every year, with over 2% living with chronic disability from brain injury.

The most common, persistent and disabling consequences include changes in cognitive and emotional functioning, leading to a deep and wide range of effects in life. These individuals need and deserve innovative approaches that empower them to improve health and wellbeing including strengthening the functions that will help maximize success with school, work, family and community.

BrainStrong Experiential Learning: Concept & Design

Learning useful skills and knowledge after brain injury is inherently difficult. In a collaboration with rehabilitation clinicians and neuroscientists of VA Northern California, we have endeavored to help Veterans optimize and strengthen brain functioning through technology-augmented training and education. Dr. Anthony Chen, MD, & Dr. Fred Loya, PhD partnered with our team at NeuroUX to create new and innovative learning experiences that bring together the creativity and convenience of digital designs with the vitality and value of expert coaching.

In this project, we have developed engaging innovations to achieve the best possible learning experiences, including embedding learning challenges in an underlying neuroscience-driven yet life-relevant design. This has included developing and testing design to maximize skill acquisition, application, and integration in a range of complex experiences, creating experiential bridges to better functioning in personal life.  

The learning objectives have also driven innovations in tracking and measurement of complex neuro-cognitive functions, with design and development of novel metrics capturing data not easily captured in clinical settings nor other digital metrics. These metrics support new ways to strengthen learning via individualized, data-driven feedback.

We are further working together on the next frontier of using the training and tracking tools together with individualized brain and peripheral physiologic metrics to further strengthen learning.

We have designed digital and online experiences to maximize the learning of neurocognitive skills and knowledge that have the potential to make a great impact across life situations (beyond just specific task practice contexts.) In these experiences, we progressively introduce new situations, cognitive demands, and knowledge designed to be relevant to real-world complexities.

“There are many steps in an effective learning process that need to be embedded in the design in order to make a real difference in each individual’s life. Half the challenge is in designing digital experiences to effectively augment the learning goals, half the challenge is in providing effective coaching to deepen the learning and maximize usefulness in personal life, and in between there is effective integration to achieve effective guided, experiential learning."

Anthony Chen, MD

VA Northern California Health Care System

Remote Administration

We understand the inherent challenges of remote training, particularly keeping participants engaged and adhering to their program. We’ve designed the BrainStrong experiences keeping remote administration in mind. Here's how it overcomes these challenges:

  • Captivating Gameplay:

The well-designed game mechanics, level structure, graphics, immediate and detailed feedback actively motivate participants to invest in their skill development.

  • Adaptive Difficulty:

The game dynamically adjusts the complexity of rounds based on participants’ performance, ensuring that the cognitive challenges remain engaging yet manageable.

  • Personalized Coaching:

Our apps capture rich data on participant performance, providing comprehensive insights to coaches. These insights paint a detailed picture of each participant’s strengths, weaknesses, skill usage and progress over time. Coaches can then leverage this information to tailor training plans and offer targeted support.

“A critical challenge in the development of training tools lies not just in teaching a skill or measuring learning outcomes, but in ensuring the effective transfer and generalization of these skills into the personal lives of individuals."

Anthony Chen, MD

VA Northern California Health Care System

Our Approach

We created BrainStrong experiences by focusing on principles of human-centered design and iterative development processes converging with key principles of learning and goal-directed cognitive functioning. While the overall goals of the training tool were well-defined, determining the exact specifications and design involved a lot of exploration and refinement. Collaborating closely with Drs. Chen and Loya, we continuously refined it to ensure it meets the research needs and therapeutic goals effectively.

Transitioning from concept to reality, our development process was anchored in four pivotal areas:

  • Flexible Architecture:

The game's architecture is built to be highly flexible, allowing us to modify features and adjust the gameplay based on ongoing feedback. This flexibility ensures that BrainStrong experiences can evolve over time, continuously improving to meet the changing needs and preferences of our users.

  • User Testing:

Key to our development process has been the incorporation of user testing at various stages. This allows us to gather important feedback from a diverse group of players ensuring that the game is immersive, accessible and user-friendly.

  • Experimentation:

We have developed BrainStrong experiences with experimentation in mind, making it simple for Drs. Chen & Loya to do beta testing and run pilot studies. The game's flexible structure facilitates easy adjustments in cognitive challenges and various parameters, enabling comprehensive evaluation of user experience, learning success, and performance at different levels.

  • Data Logging:

We have implemented advanced data logging that captures every interaction and response, providing a deep insight into user experience, performance and difficulty levels.  This wealth of data supports the development of personalized and adaptive progression within the game, moving beyond simple task performance measures towards metrics relevant to the complexities of real life.

Innovation and Collaboration

We're proud to partner with the VA team on this innovative project, contributing to tools that empower Veterans in their journeys towards health and wellness. This project showcases our ability to collaborate with researchers, translate complex research goals into engaging experiences, and deliver impactful digital tools. With a dedicated team of top-tier engineers, designers, and scientists, NeuroUX has established itself as a leader in creating innovative platforms that stand out for their exceptional quality and effectiveness in advancing health and research outcomes.

Meet the Research Team

Fred Loya, PhD

Dr Loya is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist and researcher at VA NCHCS at Martinez, who works primarily with post 9-11 Veterans with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. In his clinical role, he helps lead the Transitional Reintegration Program, whose overarching goal is to help Veterans maximize their real-world functioning while working towards important personal life goals. A particular emphasis of this work is helping Veterans develop practical skills for re-integrating into their communities following their military service. As a clinical researcher, his focus is on developing innovative treatment approaches to help improve Veterans’ cognitive and emotional functioning, especially under conditions of stress and/or challenge.

Anthony Chen, MD

Dr. Chen is a neurologist and neuroscientist who has worked with and learned from Veterans with brain injuries for two decades. He works to help Veterans through direct clinical care that includes innovations in care programs and neuroscience-driven advancements in treatment. Dr. Chen founded the Program in Rehabilitation Neuroscience to bring Veterans’ voices and needs together with compassion, creativity, neuroscience and technology to empower Veterans in their journeys towards health, wellness, and success in personal goals.  His work is guided by a rehabilitation neuroscience model in which the experiences of injured individuals are connected with neuroscience to inform the development of interventions and informative metrics, with testing in patient-centered clinical/neuroscience studies, generating new knowledge for neuroscience and improvements in real-world solutions for individuals with brain injuries.


At NeuroUX, we are passionate about revolutionizing healthcare and brain health research through innovative digital solutions. Our cutting-edge platform empowers scientists and researchers to conduct groundbreaking studies at scale, reaching diverse populations and gathering rich data insights. With a dedicated team of engineers, designers, and cognitive and neuroscientists, we collaborate closely with our partners to transform their research vision into reality, providing end-to-end software development services. We are committed to democratizing research and breaking down barriers, unlocking new frontiers of knowledge to improve people’s lives.

Innovating Solutions for a Changing World