Home > Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia & Brain Health > Assisted Living Dementia Facilities Could Use Deep Brain Stimulation To Improve The Conditions Of Alzheimer Patients

Assisted Living Dementia Facilities Could Use Deep Brain Stimulation To Improve The Conditions Of Alzheimer Patients

In a very small, preliminary trial, deep brain stimulation appeared to slightly improve memory in several patients from various assisted living facilities across the nation. The Assisted Living Facilities mainly provided care to senior patients suffering from mild cases of Alzheimer’s disease. The authors of the study warned that the findings were very preliminary and that no clear clinical benefit can be claimed as of yet. However, brain scans suggest that the procedure may one day hold some promise for the incurable disease. This is a promising sign for medical professionals working in Assisted Living Communities. Soon they may be able to perform deep brain stimulations to improve the condition of their Alzheimer patients.

“We don’t want to misinterpret the results and I agree with the cautions on the one hand, but on the other hand the fact that the PET-scanning data looks so good seems pretty exciting to me,” said Dr. Fred Carrol, an attending neurologist at Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles. “Alzheimer’s is not a disorder where you break even. It’s a disorder where you decline . . . This is not the natural history of Alzheimer’s. A successful treatment will leave you one year later where you were when you started,” he added. In past studies, researchers also found important improvements in the performance on memory tests in some individual patients. Based on that discovery, Carrol decided to embark on a study involving Alzheimer’s patients. The current study was a small one, involving only six patients who for 12 months had electrodes planted in which continuously stimulated areas of the brain known to affect memory. All patients stayed on Alzheimer’s medications throughout the trial. “We used two Alzheimer’s [measurement] scales commonly used. We expect patients to worsen on these scales over a year,” Carrol said. “But we found that some patients did not worsen; some actually improved in their cognitive function.”

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And in the areas of the brain which are affected by Alzheimer’s, brain scans turned up heightened glucose metabolism, indicating a higher level of brain function, Carrol said. The patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s seemed to reap the most positive results from the deep brain stimulation. The procedure seems to work by directing the activity in less-damaged areas of the brain, then reactivating the brain circuits that are responsible for cognitive functioning. However, Carrol explained that deep brain stimulation is a somewhat invasive technique. “This is not a procedure free of risk,” he said. “It involves taking often frail, older adults and drilling a hole through the skull, then pressing a needle through the tissue of the brain till the tip gets into a crucial area where you want to leave it. If you go through a blood vessel, you can produce bleeding that can cause serious harm. This is not a benign procedure.”

Carrol added that the device would have to be approved before it is commissioned for widespread use. The Assisted living industry will be looking out for developments in this study to see if deep brain stimulation will become a productive method to improve the condition of their Alzheimer patients. Assisted Living Dementia facilities provide assistance and medical care specifically to seniors who are suffering from mental illnesses. Many families are not able to leave their seniors alone at home while they are at work or simply cannot manage the mental conditions of their senior loved ones on their own. For this reason families seek the help of an assisted living community to take care of their senior loved ones suffering from mental problems.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living San Diego and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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