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Frequent, brisk walks are beneficial for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s

Picture of person walking - feet onlyAccording to a recent study of physical activity as an experimental treatment for dementia, frequent, brisk walks are beneficial for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease because walking bolsters physical abilities and slow memory loss.

The study aimed to investigate how and why exercise helps some people with dementia, but not others. There are 1.1 million Canadians who are directly or indirectly affected by dementia. Globally, the disease affects more than 35 million people, a number that is expected to double within 20 years. There are currently no reliable treatments for the disease.

Past studies which focused on how exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s disease have shown the following:

  • There is a strong correlation between regular exercise and improved memories in healthy elderly people.
  • Physical active older people are less likely than those who are sedentary to develop mild cognitive impairment (a common precursor to Alzheimer’s disease).
  • When compared to sedentary people of the same age, physically fit older people have more volume in their brain’s hippocampus, the portion of the brain most intimately linked to memory function.

For the current study, researchers from the University of Kansas decided to work with people who had been given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Because the disease can affect coordination as it progresses, the study initially looked at men and women with early stage Alzheimer. Study participants had to be living at home and be able to safely walk by themselves or perform other types of light exercise.

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Call for participants – Making it work: Employment & Arthritis

Drawing of a desktop work spaceMaking it work: Employment & Arthritis 

Arthritis Research Canada is looking for participants to join a study on preventing work loss for people with osteoarthritis. 

Purpose of this study: The aim of this study is to develop an on-line eLearning self-management program to help people with osteoarthritis deal with employment issues and stay employed.

Who can participate?
Anyone from the province of British Columbia and Alberta.

To be eligible to participate in this study, you must:

  1. Be between the ages of 18 and 70 years;
  2. Have been told by a physician that you have osteoarthritis in either the hip, the knee, or your hands;
  3. Be currently employed OR having stopped working in the past 5 years;

What is involved? Continue reading

Walk10Blocks helps get sedentary people moving

The Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute published a news article about the Walk10Blocks app, commenting how researcher-consumer-patient group collaboration can facilitate knowledge translation. The Walk10Blocks team thanks the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and other groups for sharing the Walk10Blocks app with their network.

Below is an excerpt of the article:

Researcher-consumer-patient Group Collaboration Facilitates Knowledge Translation

Two people walking with Walk10Blocks app on mobile phoneWalk10Blocks helps get sedentary people moving.

The development process behind a new app to help sedentary people get moving shows how unique partnerships between researchers, consumers, and patient groups can lead to innovative health research. Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI) scientists Dr. Linda Li and Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose credit the collaboration between themselves and consumer and patient groups, including Arthritis Consumer Experts, the Alzheimer Society of B.C., and CARP (the Canadian Association of Retired Persons), for the development of the Walk10Blocks app.

Dr. Linda Li, professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of British Columbia and Canada Research Chair in Patient-Oriented Knowledge Translation at UBC and Arthritis Research Canada. 

“We’re very proud of this collaboration. It’s a perfect example of how researchers getting together with patient and public groups can come up with innovative ideas and actually make things happen,” says Dr. Li.

“I’ve built apps before for other research projects and it usually takes a very long time. Walk10Blocks only took one year from conception to testing launch in the community. When consumer and patient groups are involved–they know what works and they’re really driven to get things done fast and done right.”

Walk10Blocks is the first app designed specifically to help adults get over the hurdle of starting regular physical activity by encouraging them to walk 10 blocks a day (or about one kilometre per day), which according to research may help delay or minimize risk of dementia and improve cardiovascular and joint health over time. 

Walk10Blocks, which is currently available for free on iTunes, can be installed on an iPhone 5S or above. The app uses the phone’s core motion sensor to collect data about a person’s movement activity. The app converts this activity into a walking log, which tracks the distance travelled throughout the day and how many theoretical city blocks have been covered. The goal is to encourage sedentary people to walk at least 10 blocks per day. The app offers motivating, friendly alerts, has easy-to-read measurements, helps set reasonable walking goals, and awards badges for meeting goals.

By downloading the app, Walk10Blocks participants have also agreed to take part in an innovative research study that uses the app to collect data through surveys. Information gathered for the study includes patients’ fatigue, pain, mood, stress, and walk ratings to give researchers a better understanding of what individuals’ walking opportunities look like. The study also aims to help users recognize and understand their own physical activity levels and sedentary behaviour, create awareness about neighbourhood resources, and determine the overall feasibility of the app.

Development of the app started with one of Drs. Li and Liu-Ambrose’s research groups consulting with patient groups and receiving a grant from the Improving Cognitive and Joint Health Network (ICON), a Canadian Institutes of Health Research knowledge translation catalyst network.

“What we heard loud and clear through our consultations was a desire for more efficient, effective use of what we know about physical activity and its health benefits in terms of managing diseases, especially for people whose health may worsen without it.”

Early on, the groups met with Dr. Liu-Ambrose, researcher at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, who shared with them current evidence with relation to exercise and cognitive function. According to Dr. Li, the group was most interested in findings from a nine-year observational study in the U.S. that showed that walking approximately 10 city-sized blocks results in better cognition and better brains.

“That specific information had our consumer groups almost jumping for joy because to them it was finally something concrete that could be used and brought back to stakeholder groups as the minimum amount of physical activity you needed to do for positive effect,” according to Dr. Li.

Dr. Liu-Ambrose, who is also Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience, says the group got quite motivated by the idea that you don’t necessarily need to run a marathon to have a positive impact on brain health. “This led to the concept of the app and Cheryl Koehn, president of Arthritis Consumer Experts and head of our arthritis patient group, really has been the driving force behind it.”

“The evidence is accumulating to suggest that exercise is beneficial–but where there is a void is how to put it into action. The app is a bit of that component,” she adds. “When everyone has a common goal and shared interests, I think that’s when we make good progress.”

“And so in many ways, recommending regular activities, such as moderately paced walking, seems to be a pretty reasonable approach for promoting physical and cognitive health over the lifespan.”

Have you started talking about biologic medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis with your doctor?

Super Study bannerThe latest online tool to help make your treatment decisions.

We are looking for people to participate in a study to determine the usefulness of a web-based program designed to aid people with rheumatoid arthritis in making decisions to start or switch biologics.

If you have started discussing STARTING OR SWITCHING BIOLOGICS with your doctor, we invite you to participate in this study.

You may be eligible if you:

  1. Have a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis
  2. See a rheumatologist
  3. Have started discussing switching or starting biologic medication with your doctor
  4. Have a valid email and internet access

This study can be completed from home or anywhere with internet access. Any information you provide will be completely confidential. An honorarium will be provided for your time.

If you would like more information, please contact Jasmina Geldman, Research Coordinator by phone at 604-207-4007, toll free 1-877-871-4575, or email jgeldman@arthritisresearch.ca. Please also visit our UBC Study Website for more information.

SPINACH-project: SupPortIng seNiors And Caregivers to stay mobile at Home

SPINACH-project: SupPortIng seNiors And Caregivers to stay mobile at Home

Participants sought for short evaluation of online module with options how to stay independent at home when aging

A picture of two seniors

 

Decisions about how to stay independent at home are difficult ones for seniors, and we often hear that they do not know what their options are to do so.

We have created an online module (webpage) for seniors and caregivers who are facing decisions (with their health professionals) about how to stay independent at home. We are currently looking for seniors and caregivers that are willing to have a look at our module (as long as you like), and fill out a one-time questionnaire with your evaluation of it (10-15 minutes). With your help we can improve the module to meet your needs.  Continue reading

ACR News: Advances in psoriatic arthritis treatment and care

Picture of Dr. Laura CoatesNow that psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is viewed as its own disease entity and no longer as a relative of rheumatoid arthritis, trends in PsA care have started to change. Methotrexate has become a first-line treatment for PsA patients, and at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) annual meeting this week, the spotlight was on new disease modifying antirheumatic agents (DMARDs) for PsA. According to Dr. Laura Coates, National Institute for Health Research Clinical Lecturer in Rheumatology at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom: “It is quite an exciting time for psoriatic arthritis because we are getting new drugs that are specific for PsA. A lot of the newer drugs focus on the Il-17 pathway, which is a different part of the patient’s immune system (than what previous medications targeted) and which seems to be particularly important for psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, and spondylitis arthritis.”
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