Written by Dr. Allen Gee MD, PhD, FAAN
Reframing ‘Normal’ Health Outcomes
Becoming forgetful as we age is accepted as a normal part of life. The interesting piece is, memory loss is not a normal process of aging. We expose ourselves every day to contributing factors which can injure the brain and lead to memory loss and brain atrophy and many of these activities are modifiable.
Rather than accept memory loss and declining cognitive function as an absolute, there are many interventions we can embrace and lifestyle modifications we can pursue that will help us age more gracefully, more resiliently, and in our homes. We are not aware of all the things we don’t know, and we work through any challenges that come up in our lives.
Using Innovation in Medical Screening
Technological innovation, however, is surfacing opportunities to impact our lives in a positive way. We can digitize human form and function. Based on your posture, your walking, and your speech characteristics, we can assess in a matter of minutes the status of your mobility and cognition. Knowing your abilities, we can support your needs and ultimately, this will impact your ability to live independently.
External imaging can be done with cameras and we can generate a 3D representation of your body and more importantly use this technology to predict medical issues and outcomes. Gait is an indicator of decreased mobility as well as cognition as we see different patterns of gait with Alzheimer’s versus other types of dementia. By walking on a mat of sensors we can characterize all aspects of your gait. The production of speech is also very powerful in identifying cognitive issues and can be assessed in a matter of minutes by listening to you speak. The vision system is also very reflective of cognitive function and with new technologies such as virtual reality headsets we can assess your vision system in an efficient manner.
Thanks to digital assessments assessing function, it becomes possible to screen large populations and find those that are showing evidence of cognitive impairment and decreased mobility. Once identified, it then becomes possible to intervene and change patient outcomes. Intervention begins with assessing sleep, nutrition, movement, and mindfulness as these are the foundational drivers of good neurophysiology in the body. By optimizing your physiology, we can enhance your body’s ability to stay healthy and start to shift the narrative of memory loss being a normal part of aging and help you live independently, longer.