Affecting approximately 44 million people worldwide, dementia remains one of the greatest health challenges that we face as a community.
Available medicines have been successful in slowing the progression of symptoms, but not at halting this progression in its entirety. In the absence of a cure, the team at the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) has turned its attention to the prevention of dementia through key lifestyle choices, through their groundbreaking Maintain Your Brain program.
Lead investigator, Professor Henry Brodaty describes the program as a ‘world first’.
“Maintain Your Brain is the largest trial ever to test whether an internet program over the course of four years can protect your brain functions,” says Prof. Brodaty.
The study will deliver an internet guide and portal to up to 16,000 participants recruited through the 45 and Up Study at the Sax Institute, with tailored modules addressing each person’s individual risk factors. Modules include physical exercise, diet and nutrition, brain training and stress management. Significantly, Maintain Your Brain is the only study to date that directly addresses depression as a risk factor in the development of dementia.
Participants log on from home in their own time and have direct access to support and assistance. Maintain Your Brain utilises novel methods through technology to tackle key risk factors in middle age, including using computer-based games for learning and brain activity. The internet delivery method also represents a big step in terms of accessibility; with a clear path to a national rollout should it prove successful.
“The MYB team has worked hard to make the IT platform user-friendly yet sophisticated enough to deliver a program specific for each person’s risk factors. Participants will receive regular feedback to encourage continued participation and use state-of-the-art technology to monitor their cognitive performance over the three years of the trial,” says Professor Brodaty.
Now at the two-year mark, the Maintain Your Brain research team has successfully developed the required infrastructure to deliver the program, selected participants for pilot studies, and refined each intervention module.
Maintain Your Brain represents a large-scale collaborative effort between CHeBA, UNSW Sydney, University of Sydney, Australian National University, University of Melbourne, Western Sydney University and Monash University. Dementia Australia’s National Ambassador Ita Buttrose AO OBE is patron of the Maintain Your Brain study.
To find out more, visit www.maintainyourbrain.org
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