Helmet May Reverse Alzheimer's Symptoms

British researchers are testing a helmet they say may be able to start to reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in weeks -- if patients wear it for ten minutes a day.

It aims low levels of infrared light at the wearer's brain, and researchers believe that may stimulate the growth of brain cells.

Dr. Gordon Dougal, director of medical research at medical research company Virulite, developed the helmet, which doesn't have a name yet. He says it may be on the market as soon as a year from now.

Tests at the University of Sunderland found that infra-red light can reverse memory loss in mice.

Human trails are set for this summer.

Dougal explained to Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen Monday that, "How we hope it's going to work is that the infrared light will be facing inside the helmet onto the actual person, onto their skin, onto their brain, and actually goes on the frontal part of the bones, so it goes onto the actual front part of the brain and the side of the brain. The side of the head and their skull are relatively thin, so the light will penetrate the skull and treat the underlying brain tissue. And the top of the head is also quite thin, and the light will penetrate the brain tissue at that point.

"These are the crucial parts of the brain where your personality, memory and cognitive function are carried out.

"The back part of the brain is more motor function and more associated with vision, which perhaps is not as affected by age-related memory loss than perhaps the front part of the brain."

Dougal says his stepfather has shown significant improvement since he began wearing the helmet several years ago "for possibly six minutes twice a day, and it took about a month for us to notice an improvement. ... He was remembering things better. He was being able to actually think better. He was able to articulate better. In effect, you know, he could drive himself around better. He could do almost everything better."

Dougal told CBS News his stepfather "went from someone who had trouble finding his keys to someone who could drive across the country in long trips. He is now 81 and deteriorating, but it gave him a good six or seven more years of competence."
  • CBSNews

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.