Slow down Alzheimer’s disease by stimulating the neurons

News 25 January, 2018
  • Photo Anne Caroline Desplanques
    A spiral of metal is placed on the head of Micheline Morency and sends an electrical discharge to the surface of his skull to stimulate the activity of the neurons. She participated in an international study to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Anne Caroline Desplanques

    Thursday, 25 January 2018 01:00

    Thursday, 25 January 2018 01:00

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    In the hope of slowing the disease, Montrealers suffering from Alzheimer’s disease to submit their brain to magnetic stimulation in the framework of the first international study.

    “Don’t expect to have a great conversation with my wife. In five minutes she will not remember why she started to talk to you “, blows Serge Gervais.

    At the age of 62, his companion Micheline Morency suffers from Alzheimer’s disease for five years. She lost her short-term memory, judgment and inhibitions are altered.

    In the next room, Ms. Morency is sitting in a chair tilted. A spiral of metal is placed on his scalp and sends an electrical pulse to the surface of his skull to stimulate the activity of the neurons.

    The method is called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation or Rtms.

    “The Rtms is a medical technique non-invasive and painless development in the late 1980s, which has proven successful in the treatment of depressions severe,” says Dr. Lisa Koski, the research Institute of the McGill university health Centre (RI-MUHC).

    Slow down the progression

    “We hope to use to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in patients who are at the early stage or moderate,” says the scientist.

    The hypothesis is that the stimulation would increase the activity in the frontal regions of the brain commonly affected by Alzheimer’s. This would improve the cognitive abilities and the memory of the sick.

    Ms. Morency is one of the first patients in Quebec to test the Rtms. Dr. Koski seeks to recruit a hundred people in total to participate in the experience. The other one hundred are the same year in Manitoba and 100 in Australia.

    All must follow a session per day of stimulation of 20 minutes for two to four weeks. The researchers will then follow for a period of six months to assess the effects of the experience and will finally their results together to determine the effectiveness of the method.

    A step forward

    “This is not what we thought to be our retirement,” said Mr. Gervais. But if it can help to earn a few years, we go there. “

    Alzheimer’s disease is still a disease that is incurable and irreversible. In fact, “any effort to slow down or stabilize the disease represents a step forward,” explains Dr. Koski, who hopes to give hope to patients and their families through his research.

    Alzheimer’s disease by the numbers

    • 1.1 million Canadians directly or indirectly affected by the disease
    • 17 000 Québécoisde less than 65 years of age with
    • $ 10.4 billion annual cost charged to Canadians to take care of people with diseases, cognitive
    • 47.5 million people with dementia in the world, among which 60 % to 70 % are living with Alzheimer’s disease

    Sources : quebec Federation of Alzheimer societies, the Alzheimer Society Canada, WHO

    Those wishing to participate in this clinical study may contact Rishanthi Sivakumaran at 514 934-1934, ext 34439.