Researchers testing triple intervention to combat dementia

Dec. 06, 2016

Original Media Release available on Lawson Health Research Institute's website,

Researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute are the first in the world conducting a clinical trial to test a triple intervention aimed at treating Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and delaying the onset of dementia. The Mobility, Exercise, and Cognition team will be incorporating physical exercises, cognitive training and vitamin D supplementation to determine which treatment works best for improving mobility and cognition.

“We have learned the brain processes involved in motor-control - for example how a person walks - and cognition - for example how that person solves a problem - share similar locations and networks in the brain,” explains Dr. Manuel Montero Odasso, Lawson Scientist and Geriatrician at St. Joseph’s Health Care London. “Problems with mobility are connected to lowering function in the mind, and so can be a good indicator of future progression into dementia.”

MCI is an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment. While many older individuals experience decline in both mobility and cognition, each are assessed and treated separately with no specific recommendations available for physicians.

The SYNERGIC Trial will combine physical exercises, cognitive training and vitamin D to test how these interventions work together to improve cognition in older adults at risk for dementia. The trial is targeting cognitive decline at the earliest stage, individuals with MCI, where interventions are more likely to have an effect and can be monitored.

Dr. Montero Odasso explains that both physical and cognitive exercises have shown promising effects for maintaining cognition, while vitamin D deficiency is associated with cognitive decline. A key feature of this trial is that participants will receive individualized and progressive training.

“By delaying declines in cognition, we can improve a person’s quality of life. This research will help to support a more comprehensive preventative treatment with clinical guidelines for physicians whose patients are at risk of developing dementia,” states Dr. Montero Odasso. “Even more, each one year delay of progression to dementia in older individuals at risk has the opportunity to save billion dollars to the Canadian health care system.”

Individuals over 60 years old with mild cognitive impairment without dementia are eligible for this clinical trial. Those interested in participating are encouraged to contact Research Coordinator Alanna Black at 519.685.4292 ext. 42179. Participants will be asked to complete a routine of exercises and cognitive training three times a week for six months, with one final assessment at 12 months.

This study has been funded by the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegenerative in Aging (CCNA) which represents Canada-wide research aimed at enhancing the quality of life and services for individuals diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease.

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Lawson Health Research Institute. As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care London, and working in partnership with Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care around the world. www.lawsonresearch.ca

For more information, please contact: Laura Goncalves Communications & External Relations Lawson Health Research Institute (t) 519-685-8500 ext. 64059 (c) 226-448-1525 laura.goncalves@lawsonresearch.com

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