7.02.2004

New Hope for Learning After an Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer's?

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine and Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach suggest that people who have early stage Alzheimer's disease (AD) could still be taught to recall important information and to better perform daily tasks.

The study led by David A. Loewenstein and colleagues found mildly impaired AD patients who participated in 3-to-4 months of cognitive rehabilitation had a 170 percent improvement, on average, in their ability to recall faces and names and a 71 percent improvement in their ability to provide proper change for a purchase.

The participants could also respond to and process information more rapidly and were better oriented to time and place compared to a similar group of AD patients who did not receive this targeted intervention. These improvements were still evident 3 months after the cognitive training ended.

According to Loewenstein, "Our study shows that people with early AD can learn. This learning can be greatly enhanced if you teach them certain techniques that target particular areas of the brain. More importantly, by combining specific cognitive rehabilitation strategies, we can help people with AD remain engaged in daily activities and retain a connection to their family and friends and the world as a whole for a longer period of time."



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