Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain Injury Care: Treatment and Reimbursement Challenges

Giffords May Get Better Brain-Injury Care Than Most of Her Constituents (ProPublica):

“Despite the need for more research, Giffords’ story shows the potential of the treatments now available. But according to Susan Connors, the president of the Brain Injury Association of America, what treatment you receive depends heavily on your state, insurance plan (or lack of one), hospital and the people advocating for you.” Read the rest of this entry »

Transcript: Paul Nussbaum on Meditation, Neuropsychology and Thanksgiving

Below you can find the full tran­script of our engag­ing Q&A ses­sion yesterday on holistic brain health with clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Paul Nussbaum, author of Save Your Brain. You can learn more about the full Brain Fit­ness Q&A Series Here.

Per­haps one of the best exchanges was: Read the rest of this entry »

Alzheimer’s: Non-drug Interventions to Improve Quality of Life

It is not easy to take care of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Quality of life for both patients and caregivers usually deteriorate as the disease progresses. This issue also has an economic side: the care provided by family members is valued at nearly $144 billion. What would happen if caregivers could not carry on anymore? As this article from the Huffington post reminds us, there is no pill to help families stay together longer, and have happier lives. However there are a growing number of non-pharmacologic interventions that could achieve this. Read the rest of this entry »

Alzheimer’s Disease: is our Healthcare System Ready?

In the midst of much healthcare reform talk, not Alzheimer's Disease reportenough attention seems focused on ensuring healthcare systems’ preparedness to deal with cognitive health issues -with Alzheimer’s Disease as the most dramatic example- which are predicted to grow given aging population trends.

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, and the USA Today comments on a new report that makes stark predictions:
Global Alzheimer’s cases expected to rise sharply (USA Today)

– “The 2009 World Alzheimer’s Report, released today, estimates 35 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The figure is a 10% increase over 2005 numbers.”

– “The number of people affected by Alzheimer’s is growing at a rapid rate, and the increasing personal costs will have significant impact on the world’s economies and health care systems,” said Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association. “We must make the fight against Alzheimer’s a priority here in the United States and worldwide,” he said.

– “The report by London-based nonprofit Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), an international federation of 71 national Alzheimer organizations (including the Alzheimer’s Association), indicates that the number of people with dementia is expected to grow sharply to 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050.”

Link to report: Here

The Alzheimer’s Association is organizing multiple Memory Walks to raise awareness and funds. You can learn more and join Here. (Perhaps a good opportunity to organize a “walking book group” as Arthur Kramer suggested in the SharpBrains Guide?)

The City of San Francisco, led by its Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS), convened since san francisco2008 an Alzheimer’s/ Dementia Expert Panel to identify gaps and issue recommendations to address the growing crisis in dementia care at the city level, and is about to release a pioneering plan that may well influence public health initiatives in other cities and states. An interim document can be found here: 2020 Foresight-Strategy For Excellence in Dementia Care (pdf)

One of the major areas of focus for that strategy was Education & Prevention, and below we can share a summary of the preliminary findings and recommendations. We will highlight the final report when ready.

ALZHEIMER’S/DEMENTIA EXPERT PANEL

EDUCATION AND PREVENTION SUBCOMMITTEE

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The subcommittee’s charge was to consider how best to educate the San Francisco community about Alzheimer’s and related dementias to change attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, standards of practice, and outcomes associated with the disease.

Specific topics addressed include:
· Protective factors relating to dementia, including risk factors and brain health
· Early identification of dementia
· Early access to services
· Community education
· Education of professionals and nonprofessionals, including physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists, social workers, nurses, and other caregivers, both paid caregivers and informal caregivers such as family and friends
· Ethical issues
· Policy issues

The dissemination of accurate information about Alzheimer’s and related dementias can play an important role in Read the rest of this entry »

Centre for Brain Fitness at Baycrest: Interview with Dr. William Reichman

In April 2008, Baycrest, a leading research institute focused on aging and brain function, received $10-million from the Ontario Government to create a groundbreaking Centre for Brain Fitness. Its stated goal was to “develop and commercialize a range of products designed to improve the brain health of aging Ontarians and others around the world”.

“Our government is proud to support Baycrest and its invaluable work, which is already leading to the discovery of important new tools and approaches to treating brain diseases associated with aging,” said Minister of Research and Innovation, John Wilkinson.

We have Baycrest’s CEO with us today, to explore why Ontario and Baycrest chose to Bill Reichman Baycrestbecome pioneers in this area, and discuss some of the main opportunities, and challenges. Dr. William E. Reichman is President and CEO of Baycrest. Dr. Reichman, an internationally-known expert in geriatric mental health and dementia, is also Professor of Psychiatry on the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

Alvaro Fernandez: Bill, thank you for your time. Let me start by asking, given that you just spoke at the recent Consumer Electronic Show, what do you make of the growing brain fitness field?

Bill Reichman: it looks like a classic example of a very promising but still early stage field – a lot of opportunity and enthusiasm, but also a lot of product claims that are not backed by solid research. Think about the physical fitness analogy: even today, after decades of progress, you still see people buying research-based products such as treadmills but also all types of random machines they see on TV and have not been subject to any validation. Similarly, consumers today do not know what to make of growing brain fitness claims. As another speaker pointed out, for the industry to fulfill its promise, it will need to be careful with research and claims, not to end up like the nutraceuticals category.

By the way, let me recognize that the work you are doing with SharpBrains reports and your website is very important to offer quality information.

Thank you. Let’s step back for a moment. Taking a, say, 10 years view, what is the main opportunity that technology-based brain fitness can offer to society?

First of all, let me say that I think we have an opportunity to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI century, similar to what happened with Cardiovascular Health in the XX, and technology will play a crucial role.

Given the rapid advances we are witnessing today in the research and technology arenas, I feel confident in saying that in less than 10 years we will have both valid and reliable assessments of cognitive functions, that will be used both by Read the rest of this entry »

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