Sunday, 21 June 2009


Dear Members and the Public ,


CIMB has created an ONLINE PAYMENT PORTAL for the General Public to make cash donations to the NGO’s of their choice. This Online Payment can be made as a one time donation or through standing instruction.

Alzheimer's Disease Foundation Malaysia (ADFM) is one of the participating recipients in the CIMB Cares Campaign.

We seek the support of ALL MEMBERS and the general Public to donate generously to ADFM via the Online Payment Portal – click on the link below :

Your generosity will help towards our various programs and activities to promote greater awareness of Alzheimer’s disease in Malaysia.

Whatever amount you can contribute will be greatly appreciated, so please don't wait.

Thank you,
ADFM – Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation Malaysia

Friday, 12 June 2009


Some people seem to be able to keep their wits well into old age. But what's their secret?

New research reveals a host of factors that may contribute to a sharper mind late in life, including exercise, education, non-smoking behavior and social activity.

While other research has shown that genetics play a role in whether people get dementia, the study adds to a growing body of research that is uncovering ways you can up the odds of keeping your brain healthy and your memory sharp now and later.

The study tested the cognitive ability of 2,500 people aged 70 to 79 over eight years. More than half of the subjects showed normal age-related decline in mind function and 16 percent had a considerable decline during the course of the study. But 30 percent of participants did not show a change in their cognitive skills, and some even improved on the tests.

The researchers then looked to see what could account for this difference:

EXERCISE: They found that people who exercised moderately to vigorously at least once a week were 30 percent more likely to maintain a sharp mind than those who did not work-out as often.

EDUCATION: People with at least a high school education were almost three times more likely to keep up their cognitive ability than those without this education. And those who had a ninth grade literacy level were nearly five times more likely to maintain the ability (a specific word recognition test was administered during the study to assess the subject's literacy level.)

NOT SMOKING: There was also a connection between smoking and brain function in old age. Non-smokers were almost twice as likely to stay quick-minded as those who smoked.

SOCIALIZING: Finally, some social activity may also be good for the mind. The results showed that subjects who volunteered, worked or lived with someone else were 24 percent more likely to keep up their cognitive function.

Some of these factors such as exercise and smoking are behaviors that people can change. Discovering factors associated with cognitive maintenance may be very useful in prevention strategies that guard against or slow the onset of dementia.

The results were published in the June Issue of Neurology. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The study supports past research that has pointed to exercise as a way to protect your brain and prevent the development of cognitive disorders. Exercise stresses your body, and causes it to release certain growth factors that can strength neurons and keep them healthy.

(Source: Life Science, June 8, 2009)

Saturday, 6 June 2009


The Charles M. and Marilyn Newman Professor and Chairman of Radiology at Mount Sinai, Drayer has been a radiologist specializing in the brain and spine for 30 years.


Thanks to advances in MRI and CT technology, doctors can get highly detailed images of the brain, a procedure used for patients with a wide variety of conditions. “Any patients with neurological or psychiatric symptoms might require an image of their brain, including patients [suffering from] stroke, brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, brain infections, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and head injury,” says Drayer.

As for groups at risk, “The same group at risk of heart attack is at risk of stroke, which some people call a ‘brain attack,’ ” says Drayer. “The warning signs of stroke are called TIA [transient ischemic attack], and people with high blood pressure, diabetes and a history of smoking are at higher risk.” Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are associated with advancing age, while brain-tumor and head-trauma patients can be any age, including children, teenagers and otherwise healthy young adults.


Doctors have identified a cluster of symptoms that most often bring people in for brain imaging. “Key signs are weakness or numbness, often on one side of the body, loss of speech, vision or hearing, dementia or loss of memory, confusion, involuntary movements and headaches,” says Drayer. “Anyone who is acutely becoming weak or losing their speech should immediately come to an ER in a stroke center that is equipped to prevent the more severe consequences.”

Many neurological conditions will affect one side of the body more than the other. “That’s because a condition affecting one side of the brain usually causes symptoms on the other side of the body,” says Drayer. “For instance, if the tumor is on the right side of the brain, they might have symptoms in the left arm or leg.”

The standard test for people who have suffered head trauma is a CT scan. “That’s now routine,” says Drayer. “If you’ve had severe head trauma, we scan to see if there’s blood on the brain.” Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients most often present with symptoms such as memory loss and tremors or other involuntary movement.

Some patients pick up on their own symptoms, and sometimes doctors or family members note them. “Some patients have chronic problems, others subacute problems, others acute problems — for example, after an auto accident or a stroke,” says Drayer. “At some point they need an image, an MRI or CT scan, to help determine their course of treatment.”


Modern brain imaging is light-years ahead of the technology in use as recently as 1970. “Traditionally, imaging of the brain was very invasive and difficult,” says Drayer. “For example, for the brain you would do a pneumoencephalogram, where doctors did a spinal tap and inserted air into spinal fluid.

“It was kind of barbaric,” says Drayer, “but it was the best thing we had in 1970.” The patient often had to be hospitalized for a week to recuperate from this diagnostic procedure.

New technology is fast, noninvasive and usually painless. “Now we do an MRI or CT scan to image the brain or spine,” says Drayer. “It takes five minutes for a CT scan or 45 for an MRI. What used to take a week in the hospital and wasn’t as accurate, now takes only 45 minutes and is accurate to millimeter resolution.” The images are now digital, and instead of running X-ray films around the hospital, doctors can read them immediately at work stations and share them with referring physicians or the patient.

In the past, imaging was only diagnostic. “We used it to find out: ‘Do you have a disease or don’t you have a disease?’ ” says Drayer. “Now we use imaging for prevention and therapy as well. Interventional neuroradiologists are treating disease rather than just diagnosing it. ... Imaging is giving information at the molecular level to see biochemical and physiological events in the brain,” says Drayer. “This helps us understand the underpinning of the disease.”

“CT scans are extremely quick and simple,” says Drayer. “There is radiation involved, so we try to keep the dose as low as possible.” These scans are good for very sick and unresponsive patients and are especially good for determining if there is acute blood on the brain, which is why they are standard in cases of head trauma. CT is also used during the acute stroke phase.

The highly sensitive MRI is the scan familiar from television; the patient lies down and enters a tubular chamber. “The MRI can be a little claustrophobic, but 95% of patients handle it well,” says Drayer. “It provides much more elegant and complete information.” Doctors choose MRI scans — which usually last about 45 minutes — for what Drayer calls “healthy sick people,” such as those with a neurological or psychiatric problem who are otherwise healthy — for example, a young woman with transient weakness or loss of vision being checked for multiple sclerosis.

PET scans are becoming more important in brain imaging. “This is molecular imaging — it defines the biochemistry of the disease,” says Drayer, who explains the scans are commonly used for following the progress of brain tumors and Alzheimer’s disease.

These tests are also extremely accurate: “We can see things in the brain that are a millimeter in size.”


Now that the technology for CT, MRI and PET scans is so advanced, doctors think the next big breakthroughs will be in understanding how the brain works. “Eventually, we’ll be able to look at the brain not just when it has a disease — like stroke, Alzheimer’s — but when it is normal and we understand how it works,” says Drayer. “Already we use functional MRI to show for example, that if you’re a professional musician, your brain works differently from a nonmusician; if you’re a professional golfer, your brain works differently when you hit a golf ball than a less experienced golfer.”

The next steps for brain imaging will be for doctors to determine individuals who are more prone to developing chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; they can then lay the groundwork for preventing or delaying the onset of these debilitating disorders.


A good question to start with is, “Could I benefit from a CT or MRI scan?” Your internist, neurologist or neurosurgeon will determine whether you are a good candidate.

Another good question is, “What are the risks?” For MRI, there is no risk except the discomfort of lying in the MRI machine. “In cases of severe claustrophobia, some people need to be sedated to help them through the exam,” says Drayer. For CT scans, the risk is the radiation intrinsic to the exam, but most centers are very diligent about using the lowest possible dose.

(Source: CNN DailyNews, June 3, 2009)


Belting out tunes in the shower may not only be music to your ears, but may also treat a variety of disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, aphasia and dementia.

Singing has both physical and neurological benefits, according to a CNN article in which Dr. Wendy Magee, International Fellow in Music Therapy at the Institute of Neuropalliative Rehabilitation in London, described music as a “mega-vitamin for the brain” that can improve a host of conditions.

“When neural pathways are damaged for one particular function such as language, musical neural pathways are actually much more complex and much more widespread within the brain,” she told CNN. “Music seems to find re-routed paths and that is why it is such a useful tool in terms of helping people with different kinds of brain damage because it can help to find new pathways in terms of brain functioning.”

Music is effective in treating not just certain medical disorders but also autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), says Dr. Robert Melillo, Co-Founder of the Brain Balance Achievement Centers and the author of “Disconnected Kids” (Penguin, 2009).

“Music works to stimulate the balance center of the brain and different chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, which we know is deficient in Parkinson’s disease,” Melillo explains. “Music can help stimulate the production of dopamine.”

Music is a powerful tool that is used in treatments of kids with ADHD as well, he says. “Different areas of the brain need to be coordinated from a timing standpoint for the brain to work completely as a whole,” he says. “Music, because it has a rhythm to it, can actually cause the brain to change the speed in different areas so that the timing becomes better.”

Researchers in Finland, according to the CNN piece, showed that listening to music for several hours daily can help stroke victims with their rehabilitation while another study described how stroke patients taught to play the piano or drums made faster progress in their recovery than patients who were treated only with traditional therapy.

Music is used to assist stroke patients by having them sing, rather than say the words as they work to regain speech, explains Ellayne S. Ganzfried, Executive Director of the National Aphasia Association.

The treatment, called melodic intonation therapy (MIT), is used in patients recovering from a stroke or brain injury, she says.

“Music is in the right side of the brain and language is in the left,” Ganzfried explains. “It’s thought that if we stimulate the right side of the brain then the left side of the brain will make the connection as well.”

Music may help those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to the CNN article, because the therapist can use familiar songs to bring out memories in a patient that may have been lost. And music gives joy both to the singer and the listener, says Gary Baker, a member of the Peace of Heart choir. The group has given 1,200 free performances in nursing homes, hospices, homeless shelters and hospitals.

“Our mission is to heal with music, and the reaction of our audiences is often powerful and emotional,” Baker says. “It seems to be part of the psychology of the human brain that music offers healing. And it offers a little bit of pleasure at the same time.”

(Source: CNN Daily News, June 4, 2009)