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Alzheimer's breakthrough discovered by treating it like a brain injury

Monday, July 28, 2008 General News J E 4
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CALGARY, July 28 /PRNewswire/ - Use it or lose it. That slogan haspeople's knees knocking when they face the spectre of growing old and losingtheir memory to Alzheimer's disease.

That fate potentially awaits 10 million American baby boomers, accordingto the Alzheimer's Association's 2008 Facts and Figures. John Ashby, a medicaltechnology researcher from the Alzheimer's Innovation Institute in Calgary hasa discovery targeted at turning those figures into myth.

Ashby unveils an innovative brain exercise discovery at the InternationalConference on Alzheimer's Disease today. Preliminary trials show the AshbyMemory Method improves memory in people with Alzheimer's disease.

"The brain is a very complex organ, but we've shown that a comprehensivebrain fitness approach can return function once you've started to lose yourmemory due to Alzheimer's disease or dementia," said Ashby. "It's much liketaking your brain to the gym."

Gayle Burrows, a Vancouver caregiver trained as a registered nurse, hasseen the dramatic improvement. One Alzheimer's participant, Timothy, improvedfrom a 16 to a 26 out of 30 on the standard Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE)."After a year with the Ashby Memory Method he is brighter, happier and heremembers my name," said Burrows. "I can finally say there is something we cando to help. It is exciting."

It can equate into noticeable improvement in the ability to dress, use thephone, converse and engage in activities halted by frustration and memoryloss.

Ashby's mother, the late Dr. Mira Ashby, received the Order of Canada forpioneering the work of rehabilitating people with brain injuries. Ashbytheorized that Alzheimer's brains could also be rehabilitated.

"With 42% of people predicted to get Alzheimer's by age 85 there's a lotof impetus to do this work," said the 53 year old researcher. In 2007 fieldtrials, 50 participants with average mental states of 15-25 - characteristicof early-to-mid Alzheimer's disease - showed measurable improvement. Resultshave been sustained for up to 1.5 years. The non-drug therapy can beadministered by a family caregiver - especially important because 85% ofpeople with Alzheimer's live at home.

The therapeutic breakthrough stimulates neuronal activity in several areasof the brain. If results prove out clinical trials, the Ashby Memory Methodwould outstrip the best Alzheimer's medications on the market.

Alzheimer's Innovation Institute Inc. is a Calgary-based companyspecializing in medical technologies. www.alzinnovation.com

SOURCE Alzheimer's Innovation Institute
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