Some of the biggest unknowns in modern medicine have to do with Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that affects residents of Cedar Rapids and elsewhere, and often requires them to enter hospice care.
Much of the current research, which is followed closely by the team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care, continues to look closely at the mechanics of what happens to people’s brains that have this condition. At the same time, we seem to be far away from figuring out how and why it occurs in some people, what makes the symptoms progress, and if there’s any way to reverse any of it.
Although activities like keeping your brain stimulated with new activities like puzzles, music, and foreign languages, exercising regularly and eating a certain diet are believed to delay the onset of symptoms in many patients, more data is definitely needed.
Other researchers continue to conduct other experiments about ways to keep the symptoms at bay, or possibly even rebuilding new proteins in the brain. There may even be a time in the future when more cells can be replaced to make up for ones that are lost.
One general method that seems to have potential for helping people with Alzheimer’s disease is something called “brain wave therapy.” It’s a general principle of a combination of lights and sounds to increase brain activity.
Different waves in the brain trigger and are triggered by different types of activities and mental processes throughout our day, even when we’re sleeping. These include alpha, beta, delta, and gamma waves.
Basic brain wave theory tells us that if certain waves could be amplified or modified, it could increase certain functions, including greater alertness, better recall, and even increased cell production.
Brain waves can be boosted by applying electrical activity to certain areas or at certain frequencies, or by hearing or seeing certain combinations of tones and light flashes, such as in a therapeutic type of video game.
This type of therapy has been linked to a reduction in depression, an increase in creativity, and general improved cognitive functioning, due to improvements in the electrical, chemical and structural areas of the brain.
Research into brain waves has been taking place since the 1920s, although there’s still plenty to learn. Some has focused on bio-medical experiments involving electricity trying to measure different results at different frequencies, while other experiments looked at the effects of different states of perception like how the wave patterns change during meditation and hypnosis.
One current theory is that conditions like anxiety, fear, and phobias are all caused by certain waves being stronger than average, and conditions like depression, fatigue, and chronic pain are caused by the lower activity of certain waves.
If research continues into these areas, it’s possible that some of these conditions could be reversed.
In Alzheimer’s disease, cells in the brain slowly die off. In many people, this starts by forgetting details but gradually progresses to losing short- and long-term memory, motor skills, and ultimately death. People’s personalities can change, they can become aggressive, anxious or confused.
Though people may have moments of clarity, these rarely last long as the proteins in their brain gradually decay.
A variety of studies are currently taking place, including one discussed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
The trial began recruiting subjects in fall 2018 and will go through 2023. The goal is to have 2,000 participants nationwide.
The research involves having subjects look at a specific “ALZLIFE” tablet application for 30 minutes a day. The app provides a variety of games and puzzles designed to boost the brain. Plus, it has been designed to deliver 40 flashes of light and sound each second at a frequency of 40Hz.
ALZLIFE developers say the 40 Hz pulse is quite fast and not very noticeable, at least four times as fast as a strobe light pulse.
Project directors hope that the combination of light, sounds, and cognitive therapy will boost gamma brainwaves and lead to a reduction in the amount of the beta amyloidal plaque that covers and proteins. These types of damaged proteins are commonly seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
The theory is that if the plaque growth is diminished, it could lead to improved function, improved mental abilities, and better quality of life for people, whether they have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or not.
Prior to the launch of the human trial, a similar type of light flashing experiment was performed on rat subjects. Within a week of daily sessions with flashing lights at a certain frequency, their cognitive function improved.
Even if you’re not part of this clinical trial but are interested in current Alzheimer’s disease research, you can still download the ALZLIFE app from the iTunes shop. People trying this on their own are encouraged to use it around an hour a day to see positive results.
The Above and Beyond Home Health Care staff is eager to help clients find ways to resist or reverse Alzheimer’s disease, whatever the tool or theories.