MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (KDKA) – Judi, a former neonatal intensive care unit nurse, has Alzheimer’s disease.
Through the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, she had an experimental procedure just over a year ago using focused ultrasound waves to disrupt the separation between the brain and the bloodstream in a part of the brain important to memory — the hippocampus.
“It was something that I wanted to do. I can’t change my diagnosis, I can’t change what the trajectory is going to be but I can change what may be in the future for other people,” Judi said a year ago.
A year later now, how is she doing? “Better than I thought. But still, you can tell, I’m not…still…”
While the words don’t come quickly for her now, Judi is still able to get out and enjoy things like volunteering as a cuddler at the NICU where see also gets to see her old friends and colleagues.
She says her memory tests show no worsening yet, but she’ll continue taking them regularly over the coming years.
“I hope that I stay at least the same,” she says.
She was able to finish reading a book once since her procedure, but she prefers an alternative now: “Listen to book on tapes. It’s hard for me to read again.”
As for complex, everyday tasks, she’s hesitant to cook big meals unassisted but is still able to handle small things, like making scrambled eggs, all by herself.
“And I’m going to do what I can do for as long as I can do it. I don’t know what the timing is going to be on that. I just go with the flow,” She said.
“We have now completed the procedure on four patients,” said Dr. Ali Rezai, a neurosurgeon at West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute.
The update? “We’re assessing memory, cognitive function and we’re looking at reductions in plaque. We’re seeing some changes in the brain with plaque reduction that we need to replicate and study across more subjects.”
“I’ll check in again with Judi down the road,” says Health Editor Dr. Maria Simbra, “to see how she’s holding up, long after her procedure.”