Dr. John DenBoer introduces Strategic Memory and Alzheimer Rehabilitation Training (SMART) at December 2015 Meeting

Debbie Lee introduced her organization, America’s Mighty Warriors, to honor those fallen heroes that have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Her son Marc was the first Navy Seal to be killed in 2006 in Iraq.  She has since taken up the quest to provide help and assistance to veterans.   She recently met up with our speaker, Dr John DenBoer, and provided him with grant money to conduct research on veteran cognitive memory with up to 100 Veterans.
Dr DenBoer, a Clinical Neuropsychologist, has been instrumental in creating a program (“SMART”, Strategic Memory & Alzheimer Rehabilitation Training). He believes this training will ultimately “slow” down the shrinkage of the brain as it relates to cognitive memory by utilizing “brain exercises” that will help stimulate the release of glutamate, which plays a principal role in neural activation.  He and his team of graduate students are looking to enroll 100 Veterans around the valley in this study to test the hypothesis.
As we age, dementia and its’ different forms, including Alzheimer’s disease, effects more people, making daily functioning more difficult.  It has been proven that veterans are 10 times more likely to experience early onset of the disease, potentially due to some brain injury, experiences, lack of nutrition, and other factors yet to be understood.
Participants start with a short 10 minute exercise to create baseline to compare against at the end of the program.  Study participants will complete a series of exercises, which are contained in the Cadet’s book with the help of “a coach” using the Coach’s book.   The study requires a commitment of about one and one half hours sessions twice a week (at least one day between sessions) for 6-­‐8 weeks (based on individual time commitments). When the exercises are complete, a graduate assistant will do a follow-­‐up (10 minutes) in order to measure change from the baseline.  Results from the study will be compared with a Mayo Clinic study, related to non-­‐veterans of our same age/demographic.
This study is limited to Veterans but not limited only to Veterans with combat experience.  At the end of the study, Dr. DenBoer’s group will be able to evaluate impact of the program.  The research, although a small sample, will help set the stage for further research of brain activity as we age.
During the question and answer period, Dr DenBoer provided illumination to misconceptions that have been a cornerstone to our own thoughts about keeping our “brains active.”
•             Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle will NOT stop dementia from happening.  If you have been doing it forever, it is not new and novel and thus doesn’t result in glutamate being released.
•             The website:  Luminosity:  Brain Games and Brain Training has NOT proven itself to improve brain function.
•             It is important to continually learn NEW/NOVEL things, such as languages, musical pieces, and games.