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Las Vegas-originated website tests your brain health

A website unveiled today will help users test their brain health — giving a score from zero to 100 — plus get tips for how to improve their grade.

HealthyBrains.org, put together by experts at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, is the centerpiece of the Brain Health Initiative announced in the fall. It’s spearheaded by Dr. Kate Zhong, senior director of clinical research and development at the Ruvo center.

“We are focusing on prevention, not treatment,” Zhong said. “On a day-to-day basis, we can improve our lifestyle to improve our brain health.”

The site includes guidance on ways to protect cognitive abilities, from common-sense advice such as not smoking and wearing a helmet to the less-defined goals of building your brain reserve, having a purpose in life and staying positive.

Users can get their brain score via a free checkup based on what are dubbed the six pillars of brain health. Answer a set of questions about diet, health history, physical and mental fitness, social interaction and sleep and relaxation to get your grade. Higher scores correspond to healthier brains.

The index registers steps users are taking to protect cognitive health and calculates the risks users have of developing dementia based on scientific research. A user’s index can be upgraded as lifestyle changes are made.

HealthyBrains.org eventually will be a database of information about cognitive health from users, and the results of those online interactions could lead to identifying subjects for clinical trials to advance new treatments and diagnostic approaches for patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Money for the creation of HealthyBrains.org came from the Caesars Foundation, a private charity funded by income from Caesars Entertainment resorts. The group supports communities where Caesars Entertainment employees live.

The $200,000 committed for this year and a proposed $200,000 for 2016-17 would be the biggest financial gift the foundation has made to a Ruvo center initiative.

“Our major focus over the years has been on older individuals and supporting healthy aging,” said Thom Reilly, executive director of the Caesars Foundation. “It’s a great fit for us.”

The website is meant to capitalize on the growing trend of turning to the Internet for health care tips.

The Pew Research Center has shown that 59 percent of U.S. adults have looked for health information online. It’s the third-most popular online activity, and people living with chronic conditions are even more likely to seek data from the Web.

The unveiling of HealthyBrains.org kicks off a week of activity at the Ruvo center. On Wednesday, Fred Margolion, CEO of RoboKind, will demonstrate a robot named Milo, which was created to teach social skills to children with autism. Ruvo Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Cummings believes Milo also might benefit patients with dementia.

On Friday and Saturday, the center presents a superbrains conference with sessions for the public and health care professionals. Presentations will explore how some people get older but their brains get better, how humor keeps brains resilient and how understanding neuroscience can make us better stewards of our brains.

Contact Steven Moore at smoore@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4563.

 

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