Non-invasive Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia
A new study from Japan published May 20, 2018, in Brain Stimulation may give hope to seniors and their loved ones about a possible non-invasive treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and vascular dementia (VaD). Past research showed that applying low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) to the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain associated with memory, improved function. Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan discovered that treating mice with low low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) to their entire brains rather than just a focused part of the brain, improved the formation of blood vessels and nerve cell regeneration. LIPUS also improved cognitive function without resulting in any visible side effects over a period of three months.
Method of Treatment on Mice
The scientists applied LIPUS to the mice three times a day for 20 minutes each time.
The mice with vascular dementia were treated with LIPUS on the first, third and fifth days after a surgical procedure that reduced the brain’s blood supply to these mice. The mice with a condition simulating Alzheimer’s disease in humans received 11 LIPUS treatments over a period of three months.
Positive results were shown with both the vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s mouse models, such as improved cognitive function and central blood flow (CBF), that lasted up to 28 days after the LIPUS therapy ended. LIPUS also activated specific cells necessary for each disease state. In the AD mice beta amyloid plaque was reduced and microglia initiated neuroinflammation was decreased. The study was a bit limited in that tau, another protein associated in Alzheimer’s pathology, could not be examined, as these kinds of AD-like mice did not have tau.
Human Clinical Trials are Underway
The researchers believe that LIPUS can also benefit humans suffering from Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia and in fact, human clinical trials have already begun. LIPUS was shown to be safe in mice and they believe that in high-risk seniors this non-invasive non-surgical treatment without the need for any anesthesia can be used repeatedly.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
Alzheimer’s disease is the number one cause of dementia world-wide with over 50 million afflicted with it and to date no cure or way of preventing it has been found. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that eventually causes memory loss, the inability to reason or do simple tasks. It causes tremendous emotional and financial suffering on those afflicted with it and their families.
In the United States it is estimated that 5.7 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s. It is the 6th cause of death in the US, although according to the National Institute on Aging, it may really be the third cause of death, as latest studies show that many Alzheimer’s deaths do not get reported. Millions of dollars have been invested in scientific research to try to prevent it by a vaccination or other method, treat it or cure it, but so far nothing has succeeded.
Vascular Dementia (VaD)
Vascular dementia (VaD) is the second most common form of dementia and usually follows damage to blood vessels from a stroke or a series of strokes. Vascular dementia leads to vascular cognitive impairment (VCI). The symptoms of vascular dementia can resemble those of Alzheimer’s like memory loss, a decline in thinking skills and confusion. However, vascular dementia also has movement problems. Both conditions can occur at the same time and this is called “mixed dementia.” Symptoms of vascular dementia and VCI can begin suddenly and worsen or improve over time.
Long-Term Skilled Nursing Care
At some point most people with Alzheimer’s will have to go to long-term skilled nursing facilities, as their caregivers and family members can no longer cope with taking care of them. Many people with Alzheimer’s are physically healthy and are only afflicted in their brains. Unfortunately, Medicare does not pay for memory loss ,except after an Alzheimer’s patient has been at least three days in a hospital and then it is only for 90 days. In advanced late state Alzheimer’s dementia, patients are mainly confined to their beds, as the body shuts down.
Vascular Dementia follows a stroke or series of strokes, so it is common for those afflicted with it to go to short or long-term skilled nursing treatment in a rehab center and this is usually covered by Medicare or Medicaid. People with vascular dementia also need stroke rehabilitation to regain motor skills. They sometimes have to learn to eat.
Royal Suites Healthcare And Rehabilitation In Galloway Township, New Jersey
Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Galloway Township, New Jersey has a state-of-the-art Memory Impaired Care Unit. To read more about memory care please see our blog post from May 29, 2018.
If this low-intensity non-invasive ultrasound therapy proves to be successful with human, it may go a long way to improving memory and cognitive function in seniors with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.