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hi-tech therapy

Gadget improves memory and brain processing in Dementia patients

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Key Highlights:

  • A recent trial of a novel hi-tech therapy “boosted the memory, brain processing, and motor capabilities of 14 people recruited in a UK pilot research.
  • The magic helmet sent infrared light deep into the participants’ brains for six minutes every treatment in the trial.
  • Researchers discovered a significant increase in motor function, memory performance, delayed memory, and brain processing speed.

Infrared lighting up the brain

A recent trial of a novel hi-tech therapy “boosted the memory, brain processing, and motor capabilities of 14 people recruited in a UK pilot research,” according to Durham University.

Participants were healthy persons aged 45 and above, with “normal intellectual function for their age.”The participants donned a Star Wars-style helmet that allowed them to “self-deliver” infrared light into the brain.

This was how they acquired the cognitive boost. The treatment is known as transcranial photobiomodulation therapy (PBM-T), and the findings were promising.

While the researchers cautioned that additional study into the therapy’s use and efficacy was needed, the results of their pilot were encouraging – and “could possibly have advantages for people with dementia.”

The helmet was tested on men and women with mild to moderate dementia in the United States, and it had “a comparable significant and immediate favorable impact.”

These individuals reported “increased energy, enhanced mood, and reduced anxiety, as well as improved physical and mental engagement in everyday activities.” Their caretakers saw an improvement in their mood as well.

What does the helmet do?

The magic helmet sent infrared light deep into the participants’ brains for six minutes every treatment in the trial. This activates mitochondria, the power plants found in our cells that “produce the majority of the chemical energy required to operate the biochemical response in the brain’s cells.”

The researchers discovered that increased mitochondrial activity can result in an increase in the quantity of an organic chemical known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This chemical provides energy to drive activities in live cells and aids in the healing of nerve cells, but it is “much reduced in dementia sufferers.”

“By enhancing the flexibility of the membrane that coats the interior of blood vessels, infrared treatment can also boost levels of nitric oxide, and hence blood flow in the brain.” This dilates blood arteries, allowing more oxygen to reach the white matter deep within the brain.

Response of Participants

In the UK trial, 14 healthy participants aged 45 and up wore the helmet for six minutes twice daily for four weeks. This was done alongside a control group of 13 people wearing a fake PBM-T helmet.

The researchers administered a battery of memory, language, and motor skills assessments to participants in both groups before and after the therapy period to evaluate if there were any functional gains. They discovered that there was a significant increase in motor function (finger tapping), memory performance (mathematical processing, a sort of working memory), delayed memory, and brain processing speed.

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