At peak last year, Lumosity had engaged roughly 70 million people, many
of whom were paying $15 per month for
access to the system’s vast array of games
designed to stimulate and strengthen various cognitive skills.
FTC argued that Lumos used shoddy
science to peddle false hope and pander to
fears of dementia. The company settled for
$2 million, which will be used to refund
more than 13,000 customer grievances.
In fact, Lumosity has been the subject
of a number of studies. While outcomes
have been mixed, there are several trials
showing increased alertness, enhanced
neurocognitive plasticity, improved visual attention, and improved function
across several cognitive parameters. That
said, there is no definitive evidence that
Lumosity—or any other brain game system—can prevent dementia.
Financially, Lumos’ settlement is minute. But the impact has been far-reaching.
In effect, the FTC squelched the company.
According to a recent article on the
STATNews website, new downloads of
Lumosity’s iPhone app dropped from a
peak of 2 million per month in 2013 to less
than 400,000 per month this past summer.
Lumos may have exaggerated the science supporting its system, but given the
ubiquity of dementia, the absence of any
meaningful conventional therapy, and the
absolute safety of brain training, the FTC’s
action seems very misguided.
By and large, practicing clinicians have
not been involved in shaping regulatory
policy. Nor do they volunteer to come to
bat for the industry when the heat comes
down. Functional and holistic practitioners were essentially mum about the new
NDI guidelines, the nixing of vinpocetine
and the Kratom ban. The vast majority of
these practitioners don’t know the first
thing about these actions.
Holistic Primary Care’s 2016 practitioner survey showed that 57% of practitioners don’t even know what DHSEA is—
and these were heavy supplement-users.
But practitioners of natural medicine
share considerable common cause with
the companies that make and market the
nutritional and botanical products they
use in their practices. They—and their
patients—have much to lose if beneficial
products are forced out of the market by
sudden regulatory changes.
Leaders in the practitioner channel
would be wise to invest time, energy and
attention in cultivating and nurturing
stronger and more active relationships
with leading practitioners and with the
professional organizations. Sooner or lat-
er, we’ll need them. NW
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