By Jenny Kemper, Director, Kemper Cognitive Wellness

Last month, Kemper announced the launch of a groundbreaking new program to restore brain function in early-stage Alzheimer’s and other dementias.  The ultimate Fit Club for your brain, BrainFitTM is a progressive cognitive skill-building curriculum designed to foster independence and delay or reduce the need for long-term care in the future.  This fun and effective multi-sensory intervention is demonstrating that it is possible to regain function and live well with dementia.

Pilot Data Summary Findings

Dr. Bergman and members of the Kemper Cognitive Wellness team, in collaboration with Kemper House, demonstrated a proof of concept for BrainFit in early 2021 with a small group of Kemper House residents.  Due to the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, this program was piloted with residents whose dementia was severe enough to require full-time care at Kemper House.  “I was very cautiously optimistic,” says Dr. Nate Bergman of Kemper Cognitive Wellness.  “We applied a modified version of the BrainFit program to individuals with significant cognitive impairment.  The team was pleasantly surprised to see the impact of the interventions on these advanced residents.”

Here’s a case study of one participant’s improvement over three months.  Note, names and other identifying characteristics changed to protect privacy. 

Case Study: Maria

A 67-year-old female living in a residential Alzheimer’s community for 2 years, at program outset Maria presented as non-verbal, depressed, unsteady gait, non-adherence with taking medications, destructive of her room and common areas.

Socially, Maria became more aware of and engaged with her surroundings during the Pilot study.  Maria started to speak to others. She verbalized when she didn’t feel well, ask for help, greet other participants, hold doors, helped the less able, and asked about certain topics she was interested in, like tennis.

Cognitively, Maria gained the ability to complete puzzles and other spatial-related tasks independently.  She is more aware of the calendar, and what day it is; she is familiar with the tennis schedule and asks for assistance in finding the match on TV.  When at her best, Maria remembers where things are and what she is doing. She seeks out others to ask questions or for help.  Maria is able to identify needs and fulfill them on her own: she gets herself a glass of water, seeks out puzzles and works independently on them, and other activities that indicate that is she is very aware of her surroundings.  Maria’s MMSE score increased 8 points over the course of the study, to 26 out of a possible 30 points.

In terms of motor skills, Maria’s grip and steadiness improved. At the completion of the study, she is once again able to independently and skillfully use eating utensils steadily without spilling on herself. She began cleaning up after herself on most days.  Maria eagerly engaged in the daily physical activity and the results were significant: her up and go score has improved by 4.91 seconds, and her gait speed increased by 0.19 meters/second.

Maria’s daughter noticed many improvements during her interactions with Maria.  Most notable, she felt Maria was able to talk with her more, she was laughing, smiling, and joking again, and “her personality came back in a number of ways.”  It’s important to Maria’s daughter that she does what she can for herself; she appreciated that Maria was once again able to cut her own food and feed herself.  She also noted that her mother was always fit, but she let that go as she got older.  She noted that her arms and legs look and feel stronger.

 

Date TUG Time 1 TUG Time 2 Gait Speed (m/s) Up & Go (3 m) MMSE
2/1/2021 2.48 2.39 0.821355236 14.96 18
3/16/2021 2.03 2.36 0.911161731 11.97 X
4/30/2021 2.03 1.92 1.012658228 10.05 26

Figure 1: Marie’s Pilot Data

 

To learn more about the Pilot findings and participants’ improvement, go to KemperWellness.com/pilot.

Ready to learn more?

If you are interested in pushing back against cognitive decline, for yourself or your loved one, contact Kemper to learn more.  This program is coming to Rocky River in October.  Kemper Cognitive Wellness is taking applications for BrainFit now, and space is limited.  Contact Jenny Kemper to learn more and apply 216/337-1400 x105.