Health-eBrain study offers Alzheimer's caregivers a "mobile mirror" of their own cognitive vitality

By Heather Mack
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A study focused on the impact that caring for an individual with Alzheimer's has on the caregiver's own brain and behavioral health has now moved into Phase II. This next phase of the Health-eBrain Study, done in collaboration with BrightFocus Foundation, Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Intitiative, AnthroTronix and Mindoula, will be announced at the Global Alliance for Women’s Brain Health during the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference today in Toronto.

During Phase I of the study, more than 1,000 caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients were recruited via the various partners' online networks. The informal caregiver population – defined as an unpaid person without formal training, such as a family member – was shown to have documented cognitive impairment compared to matched controls. The next phase will use Dana, AnthroTronix’s FDA-cleared mobile brain health assessment app, which provides detailed feedback about cognitive function that can be analyzed for changes over time.

Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, an advisor to the study and to AnthroTronix, said that while the emotional toll of caregiving is well-studied, much less is known about its long-term impact on the caregiver’s cognitive health.

“Alzheimer’s has a devastating impact on the more than 45 million family caregivers worldwide, who look after their loved ones,” said Doraiswamy in a statement. “The Health-eBrain study will pioneer the use of mobile tools for assessing and monitoring the emotional and cognitive wellbeing of Alzheimer’s caregivers.”

Phase II will give insight into caregiver stressors and other possible causes for cognitive impairment, as well as provide interventions for mental health help. All participants in Phase II will use Dana, and some will also use Mindoula, a case-management service for mental and behavioral health that offers a messenger app for caregivers. Dana will track the sleep, mood, stress levels and sell-evaluation of memory, and Mindoula will be given to those showing signs of depression or a high level of caregiver burden. Researchers will then evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention that combines virtual case management in addition to the apps.

“This study offers Alzheimer’s disease caregivers a mobile mirror on their own cognitive vitality,” Meryl Comer, president and CEO of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative said in a statement.