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Experts’ Predictions for Innovations in Brain Health

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brain health-jessica caldwell-sanjay gupta-tudor jovin-neurology-neurological diseases

Three neuroscience experts share their predictions for neurology innovation and tips you can use today to improve your brain health.

Jessica Caldwell, Ph.D.

Director, Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention Center, Cleveland Clinic

In June, we pause to build awareness for brain health. Why is it crucial this continues throughout the rest of the year?

It is critical to prioritize our brain health because, in many ways, how well we do as we age is under our control. Studies have even shown that up to 40% of current cases of Alzheimer’s might have been prevented through changing lifestyle. Building healthy habits when we are young can provide immediate health benefits and increase our odds of keeping our thinking sharp as we age. 

Tudor G. Jovin, M.D.

Chairman and Chief of Neurology, Cooper University Health Care

In June, we pause to build awareness for brain health. Why is it crucial this continues throughout the rest of the year?

I think the most important thing we can do is to really make people aware that, as opposed to the past, we now have effective treatments already for neurological diseases. We all know the brain is important, and the brain and neurological diseases are something that define us as humans. But so far, I think we have paid, as a society, relatively little attention to improving logical diseases, because there were no effective treatments. As these effective treatments are coming out, we will become more and more aware that there are interventions that we can pursue and that more resources are necessary to refine these interventions.

Brain health is something that is within our own power to achieve through simple means. It’s going back to the to the Latin proverb, mens sana in corpore, meaning healthy mind in a healthy body. We need to pay more attention and put more effort into having a healthy body — exercising and avoiding approaches that are damaging the nervous system such as drugs, alcohol, or smoking. Diet is emerging nowadays as something that has been neglected, and certain types of diets matter and keep our brain healthy. Control of these risk factors is going to be essential for healthy brain.

What does the future of neurological care look like?

I think the future is going to be individualized. First of all, I think there’s going to be a lot more emphasis on prevention rather than treatment, because based on our available genetic makeup, we’re all going to know what diseases we are predisposed to. For many of these diseases, there will be preventative measures, and for others there will be gene therapy, which has already started in a clinical resume with some very encouraging results in certain diseases. I suspect that the spectrum of treatable neurological diseases with gene therapy is going to explode in the future. We will be able to monitor the type of treatments that we’re giving with biomarkers that are going to be very effective. We will also probably have drugs that are tailored based on our genetic makeup to cause the maximum efficacy and response. All this will be very likely individualized based on the patient’s own genetic characteristics. At the same time, I think that artificial intelligence applications and social media will allow better access to care and better communication between providers and patients that’s also going to make a big difference in patient outcomes.

Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

Neurosurgeon, Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN

What does the future of neurological care look like?

In the world of telehealth, the doctor will always make a house call. That is, by mobile device or other technological means. Surely this is a way to improve the global health of the world. In developing countries with very little or no access to high-quality medical care, but often access to a mobile device, it has the potential to change the health outcomes for people everywhere. For developed countries, EMRs (electronic medical records) need to become standard operating procedure. Many problems with regard to safety can be traced to poor communication between internal hospital departments. These efficiencies can help patients become their own healthcare managers. 

What are some lifestyle habits and preventative steps that have proved beneficial for promoting brain health?  

Today, research shows that changing lifestyle can improve brain health. Specific examples include exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, nurturing your social circle, and making sure you regularly get learning experiences.  

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