An irreversible neurological disease, Alzheimer's disease is the most prevalent cause of dementia in the elderly, according to the ]]>National Institute on Aging]]>. Alzheimer's disease causes changes to the brain as early as 10 to 20 years before the onset of symptoms. Two types of brain changes occur: twisted fragments of protein called tangles and accumulation of dying nerve cells around protein called plaques.
The damage to patients' brains from Alzheimer's disease causes problems with normal functioning, such as language. ]]>MedlinePlus]]> notes that in early Alzheimer's disease, patients have trouble finding names for familiar objects. For example, if an Alzheimer's disease patient sees a set of keys, she can have problems verbally identifying them as keys. With moderate Alzheimer's disease, the language problems become more pronounced. For example, patients can have difficulty writing or reading. When speaking, patients may form confusing sentences. They may also use the wrong word or mispronounce words. By the advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease, patients cannot understand language anymore.
The loss of language can be debilitating for patients. A new study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry points out that a type of brain stimulation called repetitive transcranial stimulation (rTMS). The ]]>University of Michigan]]> notes that rTMS can also be used to treat depression. With this procedure, the doctor places coils on certain areas of the brain, which transmit electrical signals to the brain. rTMS can transmit up to 100 Hz of electrical signals to the brain.
In the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry article, the study uses 10 people diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer's disease. The participants were randomly divided into groups for testing. The first group received four weeks of rTMS with 20 Hz of electrical signals.