Article written by Heidi Mitchell, Marketing & Communications Officer, CHeBA
CHeBA Co-Directors Professors Henry Brodaty and Perminder Sachdev showcased CHeBA’s Maintain Your Brain trial at the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) held in London during 16-20 July. Two presentations about Maintain Your Brain were included in a session examining internet-based interventions to prevent cognitive decline, co-chaired by Professor Brodaty and Dr Edo Richard, Radboud University, Amsterdam.
Maintain Your Brain is the world’s largest clinical trial for people aged 55-75 testing online tools designed to reduce participants’ risk of dementia. Professor Brodaty said the study provides a critical contribution to the challenge of preventing dementia, which presents a rapidly rising economic and social burden particularly as there is no cure for the disease. Current estimates predict dementia costs will exceed $14 billion in Australia alone during 2017.
“Internet-based delivery of lifestyle interventions can prevent or delay cognitive decline, are cost-effective and allow scalability at a population level,” said Professor Brodaty. “The findings from Maintain Your Brain will provide crucial information for future clinical and policy guidelines, in line with CHeBA’s vision of achieving healthier brain ageing through research.”
Maintain Your Brain is a multimodal randomised-control trial, which is widely recognised as the gold-star standard for research methodology. The program will deliver exercise and cognitive training, nutritional advice, depression treatment and strategies for controlling cardiovascular health risks via the internet for 18,000 persons aged 55-75. Interventions will be conducted intensively for the first year, with boosters and follow-ups over four years.
Professor Sachdev presented an overview of the study’s methodology and aims, explaining that the project has important short and long term goals for dementia prevention.
“In the short-term, we are developing an innovative eHealth platform which is customised for participants and designed for sequential dementia risk factor reduction,” said Professor Sachdev. “In the medium term, we are determining its efficacy in reducing the rate of cognitive decline and in the longer term, its efficacy in delaying dementia onset, as well as the more practical consideration of cost-effectiveness.”
The use of next generation brain training technology in Maintain Your Brain was also presented by Professor Michael Valenzuela from the University of Sydney, a chief investigator on the trial. Previously, the effectiveness of brain training technology has been limited because it has only been effective when supervised in a group environment and gains wane if participants do not remain engaged. To counteract this, Maintain Your Brain is designed on gaming principles and includes innovations targeting the nature of delivery, supervision and the wider training context, rather than content alone.
“We aim to socialize the online brain training experience, connecting participants with like-minded peers, expert trainers and their own social network for long term engagement and sustained cognitive benefit,” explained Professor Valenzuela.
Led by Professor Brodaty, Maintain Your Brain involves twenty specialists from around Australia, including experts in exercise, cognitive training, diet, IT platform design, general practice, research design and prevention, hypertension and depression and consumer representation. Ita Buttrose is the patron for the study.
For more information about Maintain Your Brain, click here. If you would like to make a donation to support the research of the Centre of Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), please click here and contact us.