T.E.A.M. stands for Treat Early Alzheimer’s and Mild Cognitive Impairment.
A patient once told me that Alzheimer’s Disease is like watching helplessly while your loved one slowly sinks into the ocean. The TEAM method, he said, is tossing a rope to them and slowly pulling them back to shore.
The American Academy of Neurology agrees that there is no cure, no magic pill, for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The jury is in; $84 billion spent on 8 major trials without any success. Is there a solution? I believe there is we call it the TEAM method. The American Academy of Neurology says also that there is a solution and they note prevention; however, it works only on those not yet beset by AD and its precursor Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). But what do the 10-15 million Americans with MCI or the estimated 1.5 million Americans with early AD do? Are they lost?
The DEAR/TEAM programs purpose is to delay the onset of AD in those with MCI and early AD. Thru neogenesis and neoplasticity we can rewire the hippocampus, limbic system and the frontal cortex. The NIH study shows two groups of patients post mortem with similar pathology, pathopneumonic, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Noted one group with AD and the other having reverted. The difference was the group that reverted had a strong social network. The NIH active study with MCI.
The TEAM program takes a behavioral neuroscience approach that engenders neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, or the creation of new brain cells and new dendrites or brain connections. Then coaxing them to reform new pathways. It is the mass of 500 trillion connections that gives us our ability to think, to remember, to make decisions, and even to create.
How brain cells and their connections do this is now known. Essential to it is two parts of the brain that is especially developed in the human brain: the frontal cortex and the hippocampus. It is the loss of connections and brain cells in these two areas and others that causes MCI and AD.
I believe that with proper stimulation practiced in the TEAM program, these connections can be restored and MCI and early AD can be retarded or possibly reversed.
To do this we must exercise the brain.
The method to achieve this is first through physical exercise, which will stimulate IGF that then stimulates brain derived neurotrophic factors that activate certain genes in the brain to make new cells and new connections. Next is revitalizing connections between the hippocampus, the place of learning and recent memory, and the frontal cortex and other parts of the cortex, including the emotional brain, the limbic system.
The TEAM method differs from other treatments as it removes causative factors inflammation and oxidative stress and secondly provokes regeneration, it improves the cause of the disease to restore and rewire the brain. Drugs such as Exelon, Aricept, and Namenda do nothing to repair the brain.
The TEAM method’s main purpose is to increase actual cognition or mental capacity that is lost by AD. While doing this it also improves behavior, especially agitation, anxiety and confusion, which is so debilitating not only to the Alzheimer’s patient but also to the family, the caretakers.
The TEAM method empowers the caretaker i.e. wife, husband, daughter, or son. One well-known family told me that a neurologist once said to them, “your wife has AD, and medication doesn’t really work, if your private medical doctor wants, I’ll be happy to check on her again next year.” Devastated, the family came to me.
The How of the TEAM method
The TEAM method includes a physical exercise program and mental stimulation to increase the brain’s capacity and cognition.
To increase capacity or cognition, one needs to stimulate new dendrite and cell formation and connect these newly formed connections to the frontal cortex and hippocampus. To make a connection, one needs to connect the dots. The physical isometric exercise helps stimulate new cell and dendritic connections to vital areas of the frontal cortex, our cognitive brain. To accomplish this the patient must fully participate. In this way the brain rewires itself. This includes using the cognitive, emotional, and senses of the brain and body.
It requires time, effort and most importantly dedication. It requires commitment and love for the one you love. The TEAM method is truly like tossing a rope to someone sinking and slowly, pulling them back to shore, pulling them back to a life worth living.