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Alzheimer's Helmet May Send Healing Light to Brain

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, January 28, 2008 11:52 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Head Injury, Drug Products, Medical Devices

electronic helmet that emits infra-red light may offer help to alzheimers patients

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In the race to find a cure for, or even the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, British researchers say a helmet may begin to reverse the symptoms in weeks if it is worn just ten minutes a day.

It all sounds a little too good to be true, but researchers from Virulite which is marketing the helmet say it is true -  that the low level infra-red light may stimulate the growth of cells and encourage their repair.

Virulite is trying to get the helmet on the market within a year. It doesn’t have a name yet

University of Sunderland researchers found that in mice, infra-red light reverses memory loss.   Now human trials are set for this summer that will use the same wavelength of infra-red light as occurs naturally in sunlight.  There is a growing body of evidence that natural sunlight might help us fight disease which flies in the face of warnings about staying out of the sun.   

The helmet is positioned so that the infrared light goes inside the helmet onto the wearers skin at the site of the frontal lobe and on the side and top of the skull where bone is relatively thin.  

The thought is light is penetrating the skull and treating the underlying brain tissue.

While the front and sides of the brain are associated with your personality and memory and cognitive functions, the back of the brain is more associated with motor function and vision and may not be impacted as much by Alzheimer’s disease.  

One of the developers of the helmet appearing on CBS News this morning, Dr. Gordon Dougal says his stepfather has shown significant improvement since he began wearing the helmet several years ago, "for possibly six minutes twice a day, and it took about a month for us to notice an improvement. ... He was remembering things better. He was being able to actually think better. He was able to articulate better. In effect, you know, he could drive himself around better. He could do almost everything better."

Dougal says the helmet allowed his stepfather to drive on long trips and gave him six or seven more years of competence. 

Implications could be far-reaching according to Dr. Dougal. “So much so that in the future we could be able to affect and change the rate at which our bodies age,” he says.

In people with Alzheimer’s disease, the synapses of the brain fail to communicate. Plaque buildup is thought to result from protein fragments that interfere with the brain’s nerve cells and their ability to relay signals.  The cortex shrivels especially in the area that forms new memories. The progressive disease robs the ability to form thoughts, remember single words. Eventually it shuts down the brain and the body.

The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown but age, genetics, head injury and environmental factors are suspected.

Five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease now but the disease can strike people as young as age 30.  By age 65, it's estimated one in eight suffer from the disease. Those numbers change to one in two when people reach the age of 85.  A cure is desperately sought as the 78 million baby boomers age. 

Alzheimer’s disease will overwhelm the nation's Medicare system in less than 25 years unless scientists find a way to prevent or cure the disease costing Medicare $400 billion dollars – that is almost as much as the current Medicare budget.  #

 

  


5 Comments

Posted by Mohamed Ibrahim
Monday, January 28, 2008 4:54 PM EST

Let's hope it works.

Also it looks to me that people are getting those diseases because we further ourselves from nature and depend more on artificial and indoor lives.

Anonymous User
Posted by Jack Warfield
Monday, January 28, 2008 8:26 PM EST

Iam very interested in the Helmet and pray it will help in some way for people suffering from Altzheimer, my wife is in that catagory, probably the early stages. Thanks and lets hope this is a real breakthrough.

Anonymous User
Posted by carl pinson
Sunday, February 10, 2008 4:06 PM EST

As mentioned by others, the helmet method sounds encouraging. Will others be invited to participate in additional trials? My wife is currently treating with Aricept and Namenda. The combination of drugs is helping. The question is how long and to what extent before the drugs no longer slow the dimentia.

Anonymous User
Posted by zac smith
Sunday, February 17, 2008 3:48 PM EST

Very interested. Grandfather suffers from alz please let me know how to get a helmet.

Anonymous User
Posted by Joan Goodwin
Sunday, February 24, 2008 10:33 AM EST

Please let me know when the helmet is available for use. My husband is in a nursing home with dementia and I have been praying for a miracle! Thanks!
Joan Goodwin

Comments for this article are closed.

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