Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating diagnosis for patients as well as their families.
At Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals, investigators from both sides of the bench – clinicians and researchers – are conducting research that they hope will halt or slow the progression of a disease that has robbed so many people of their memory and quality of life.
“Use it or lose it” isn’t just a cliche when it comes to cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients; it is believed to be a vital component of keeping brains healthy.
The National Institute on Aging has awarded a $3.5 million grant to Jefferson’s Barry Rovner, MD, to test his hypothesis – that increased participation in cognitive, physical and social activities can prevent further loss of memory and cognitive decline in patients with mild memory loss.
“About a year ago, we began enrolling patients in a randomized study that looks at the effect of behavior activation on their memory and mental functioning,” says Dr. Rovner, a professor of Psychiatry and Neurology.
“Half of the study group receives behavioral therapy to increase their cognitive, physical and social activities, while half receive talk therapy sessions,” he adds. “We’ll evaluate the effectiveness with memory tests six times over a two-year period.”
Dr. Rovner and his co-investigator, Robin Casten, PhD, target a high-risk population – African Americans over 65 years of age – although results can be applied to patients of any age or race.
Half the group participates regularly in activities like doing crossword puzzles, walking and attending group outings. They hope to find that active participants maintain more of their memory and function than passive participants. The study is still enrolling patients and will be open for another two and a half years.
[…] At Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals, physician-researchers are conducting research that they hope will halt or slow the progression of cognitive decline. […]