Alzheimer’s Research


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Alzheimer’s Research

UWF faculty delve into dynamic treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease

By 2025, Florida is projected to have 720,000 individuals age 65 or older living with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

This staggering statistic, which would make Florida home to the second largest Alzheimer’s population in the U.S., could be changed by cutting-edge research happening right now at the University of West Florida.

Three UWF Usha Kundu, MD College of Health faculty members are uncovering new information on the early detection and treatment of patients with the disorder, positioning themselves and the University at the forefront of finding new methods to combat Alzheimer’s through a careful study of its progression. Dr. Crystal Bennett, lecturer of nursing, Dr. James Arruda, professor of psychology, and Dr. Youngil Lee, associate professor of movement sciences and health, are concurrently studying the disease.

Recently, former Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Health awarded UWF more than $94,000 in grant funds for Bennett’s adaptive dance Alzheimer’s research. She is studying how movement, specifically dancing, can improve the mood and physical function of elderly patients with Alzheimer’s disease by visiting local assisted living facilities and encouraging patients to get up and dance.

Adaptive dance could reduce the need for medicine. As non-pharmacological approaches gain worldwide media coverage via conferences and international journal publication, research performed at UWF assimilates with a national trend.

Arruda, a research neuropsychologist, focuses on brain-behavior relationships like those related to Alzheimer’s dementia, including mild cognitive impairment. He and his team have developed a neurophysiological marker that is selectively delayed in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Arruda is working on further developing the marker, known as the flash visual evoked potential P2, to allow for the early detection and treatment of dementia brought on by Alzheimer’s dementia.

Lee’s most recent research demonstrates how regular endurance exercise in animal models will regenerate neurons that have been destroyed by both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Through imaging conducted on the models, he found that the cell death in parts of the brain that affect memory and the autonomic nervous system decreased by roughly 40 percent after three months of treadmill exercise. His research group also found that after six weeks of running, neurons in the brain region typically targeted by the diseases begin to restore and rehabilitate.

UWF USHA KUNDU, MD COLLEGE OF HEALTH | uwf.edu/ukcoh

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