Slow Down Alzheimer's Disease by Stimulating Brain Neurons
In one particular study, using brain stimulation, a metal spiral is placed on the head of an Alzheimer's patient and sends an electric shock to the surface of the patient's skull to stimulate the activity of neurons.
In hopes of slowing down the disease, Alzheimer's patients in Montreal are submitting their brains to magnetic stimulation as part of the first international study.
"Do not expect to have a big conversation with my wife. In five minutes, she will not remember why she started talking to you," said Serge Gervais to Journal De Montreal.
At 62, his wife Micheline Morency has been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for five years. She has lost her short-term memory, and her judgment and inhibitions are altered.
In the next room, Mrs. Morency sits in an inclined chair. A spiral of metal is placed on her scalp and sends an electric impulse to the surface of her skull to stimulate the activity of the neurons.
The rTMS Therapy for Alzheimer's Disease
The method is called repeated transcranial magnetic stimulation or rTMS.
"rTMS is a non-invasive, painless medical technique developed in the late 1980s that has been proven to treat severe depression," says Dr. Lisa Koski of the Research Institute of the University Health Center at McGill.
The hope is to slow down Alzheimer's progression
"We hope to use it to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease in patients who are in the early stage or progress moderately," says the scientist.
And Improve Memory
The hypothesis is that stimulation would increase activity in the frontal regions of the brain, usually affected by Alzheimer's. This would improve the cognitive abilities and memory of patients.
Mrs. Morency is one of the first patients in Quebec to test rTMS. Dr. Koski wants to recruit a total of 100 people to participate in the experiment. Another 100 will do the same procedure in Manitoba and 100 in Australia.
All must follow one 20 minute brain stimulation session per day for two to four weeks. The researchers will then follow them for six months to evaluate the effects of the experiment and will finally pool their results to determine the effectiveness of the method.
One step forward
"That's not what we thought of our retirement," said Gervais. But if it can help to win a few years, we are ready."
Alzheimer's is still an incurable and irreversible disease. In fact, "any effort to slow down or stabilize the disease is a step forward," said Dr. Koski, who hopes to give hope to patients and their loved ones through her research.
In 2012, this UCLA study found that Brain Shock Improves Memory. It says, "stimulating a key area of the brain helps improve memory. The hope is that deep brain stimulation could someday lead to new treatments for memory loss associated with early Alzheimer’s disease," writes eMaxhealth reporter Kathleen Blanchard.
Curcumin Also Improves Memory
In another recent study, researchers found how the Curcumin, found in Tumeric can boost memory by 28% and reduce depression. In the brain, curcumin reduces the build-up of proteins in regions of the brain responsible for memory and emotion according to research. The onset of Alzheimer’s disease has been shown to be triggered by the accumulation of protein plaque in the brain. The author of the study, Dr. Gary Small from the University of California, LA, stated: “These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years.”
If you are a caregiver for a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, please let us know in the comments section below what treatment has worked the best or has given any hope.
Don't miss this: Meet Hogeweyk, the town inhabited exclusively by Alzheimer's patients.