AD Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a form of dementia. The risk of acquiring AD increases after the age of 65. There is no known cure for AD, and it is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. The symptoms begin with short-term memory loss, and progress to problems with language, reasoning, mood and behavioural issues, ultimately resulting in death. The speed of progression can vary, but life expectancy once diagnosed is 3 – 9 years.
The Qball is first and foremost a motor skills training device that trains vision, eye hand coordination and reaction time. People with mild Alzheimer’s can bounce and catch one or two Qballs as a form of mental movement training. From this base, we add thinking exercises, such as number recognition, counting, math, and imagination. By challenging a person with the physical skill of bouncing and catching the Qball as fast as they can, the mind can then be opened for other skills to be added. One such skill is to have a person count the bounces of the Qball while singing a song. This forces the person to visualize the numbers as they bounce, which layers an imagination exercise onto a physical exercise, while keeping up their speed to that of the bounces. Research shows that imagination and memory are closely linked, so this exercise strengthens one of the first areas affected by Alzheimer’s.
Research for a cure is ongoing, mainly in the form of a pill or invasive treatments that can cure or reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s. To date none have been found. However, it is established that people with higher education, those who engage in an active social life, or learn a new language, have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s or are better able to overcome the negative symptoms compared to others. Autopsies done on some individuals show a clinical build up of plaque and tangles that should have resulted in Alzheimer’s, but the patient did not exhibit the symptoms. Researchers conclude that these individuals were able to compensate for the plaque and tangles by having their brain rewire around the damaged parts, and as such developed coping mechanisms to allow them to lead full, independent lives.
It is believed by scientists that Brain Reserve is a key component of Alzheimer’s. Brain Reserve is the excess capacity within the brain that can be built up through mental exercise and challenges. It gives the brain resources to call upon to rewire itself if potential problems arise, and is based on the concept of Neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the physical change the brain undergoes to meet challenges that arise. The challenge is the key. Learning new skills, engaging the mind, and staying active all change the brain physically in a positive way. The brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with repeated use and resistance exercises, but brain exercises are much different than physical exercise. It is a mental challenge that is required, and the challenge must be maintained to keep the brain fully engaged.
Research has also found that Alzheimer’s begins in the Temporal lobe, spreads to the Parietal lobe, the Frontal lobe and ultimately to the Occipital lobe. This progression starts with memory loss, language problems, reasoning problems, mood and then behavior problems. Interestingly, none of these areas are associated with movement which seems unaffected. Research has shown that people with mild Alzheimer’s can learn new motor skills almost as well as healthy individuals. This is the window through which the Qball works.
Click to view more exercises. They are fun, varied and challenging and keep the mind and body working in a way consistent with normal brain functioning – helping a person to maintain their independence.