Working to End Alzheimer’s

Eau Claire ophthalmologist Dr. Tom Dow will open center to treat dementia risk

Barbara Arnold

I moved back to Eau Claire in 2004 to facilitate firsthand the care for my mom who had developed dementia. I asked Dr. Tom Dow of the Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic if my mom and I could have our appointments back-to-back to save me time off work joking “two for the price of one.”  His reply: “Absolutely, I understand.” Little did I know how much.

“If you can overcome your skepticism, open your mind, and change your life, you can reverse and prevent the path toward cognitive decline.” – Dr. Dale Bredesen, author, ‘The End of Alzheimer’s’

When I read that Dow would be speaking on “The End of Alzheimer’s – A Book Report,” at an OakLeaf Coffee Talk recently, my curiosity was piqued. What did Dow know about Alzheimer’s? Had he written a book about how to end it? He’s an eye expert. What would he know about this disease?

Shortly into his talk, I soon found out he learned, like most of us do, as a family caregiver.

“This is very personal for me,” Dow shared. His mother started to develop benign senescent forgetfulness, now called mild cognitive impairment or MCI, when she was 74. After four years of increasing cognitive decline, she passed away 78. Dow, who is now 70, has an older brother who has begun to exhibit signs of early-stage MCI.

Dow’s personal experience, and reading neurologist Dr. Dale Bredesen’s The End of Alzheimer’s, moved him to create his next endeavor in healthcare, called Mindful Diagnostics & Therapeutics. It’s set to open next month and will be located in the Eau Claire Medical Clinic across from Oakwood Mall. Dow’s practice will employ the RestoreU METHOD to generate and present a specific protocol – an individualized plan of action – to improve patients cognitive status and mitigate the dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The “i” in “Mindful Diagnostics & Therapeutics” is colored red to emphasize the eye, which Dow has spent his 40-year-plus career focusing on. A 2014 The Wall Street Journal article, headlined “Key to Detecting Alzheimer’s Early Could Be in the Eye,” described a specialized camera that images amyloid in the retina of the eye that may be predictive of dementia later in life.

Dow has had early access to this research device. He recently conducted a study where the information provided by the camera was the primary outcome of the study. It was during this study that Dow came across Bredesen’s work.

Bredesen’s book predicts that there will likely never be one drug to treat Alzheimer’s, but that a comprehensive approach that identifies contributors to brain health can be identified and modified. Collected information of genes, extensive blood tests, and health information are digested by “big data” (artificial intelligence), and a specific protocol is generated for each patient.

Normally, the brain works by sending messages via brain chemicals called neurotransmitters from one nerve cell to another. This movement between the gaps of the nerve cells causes us to think, remember, feel, and move. In cases of dementia, proteins called beta-amyloids clump together. Beta-amyloid comes from a larger protein found in the fatty membrane surrounding nerve cells. Beta-amyloid is chemically sticky and builds up into plaque. Plaques of beta-amyloid, along with another protein called tau, create “tangles” that block the transmission of information between nerve cells.

Dow and his team are bringing this protocol to Eau Claire. As Bredesen relates in his book: “If you can overcome your skepticism, open your mind, and change your life, you can reverse and prevent the path toward cognitive decline.”

Patients at Mindful Diagnostics & Therapeutics would first gather data about their brain and body. They would sign up for 23andme DNA testing where their saliva is shipped off to be analyzed. They would fill out a lengthy health and lifestyle survey, undergo extensive blood testing, and take a short neuro-cognitive test.

These evaluations would be the basis for the program’s individualized treatment plans. Included is a summary of current cognitive status and a list of recommended interventions – some regulated by a doctor and others including nutritional supplements, an active lifestyle including aerobic exercise and meditation, or dietary changes.

Interested parties can work with Dow’s team to determine program specifics, including financial obligation. More information about the Mindful Diagnostics & Therapeutics is available at www.mindfuldt.com.

About the Author(s)

Barbara Arnold

Barbara Arnold, a writer in Eau Claire, is a “cool aunt” who will take care of your kids for a date night and deliver them back on a sugar high. She has served as a coach and mentor to hundreds of young people.

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