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Alzheimer's Disease

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Author: Muriel Gerhard

Grade Level: 9th - 12th; Type: Neuroscience/Biology

Objective:

To investigate a variety of sources and prepare a script for a television program to educate the public on Alzheimer`s Disease, “What We Know About Alzheimer`s Disease and How Do We Treat It?

Research Questions:

  • What is Alzheimer`s disease?
  • What are the early symptoms of mild Alzheimer`s disease?
  • What are the symptoms of moderate Alzheimer`s disease?
  • What happens in severe cases?
  • What eventually happens to the patient?
  • What causes Alzheimer`s disease?
  • How is Alzheimer`s treated today?
  • What happens inside the brain during this disease?
  • What is the hippocampus and how is it affected in this disease?
  • What causes the shrinking and inflammation of the brain?
  • What role does genetics play in this disease? Do we inherit it?
  • What has lifestyle to do with it?
  • How is Alzheimer`s diagnosed?
  • To what extent has CT (computerized tomography) or MRI 9magnetic resononance imaging helped in our search for diagnosis or for a possible cure?
  • How do we help people with the disease?
  • How do we support families and caregivers in the case of Alzheimer’s to carry on and not lose hope?

On the information level, you will learn about a disease in which the brain no longer functions at full capacity, where memory begins to fail, where dementia becomes apparent. This specific disease which strikes as many as 5.1 million elderly American people is a major area of current research. This is an abnormal sickness, Alzheimer`s disease and is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer who first observed the symptoms in one of his patients namely, the loss of memory, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After his patient died, he examined her brain and found plaques and tangled neurons. He also discovered a loss of connections between nerve cells in the brain. This was only the beginning.

In this project, you are to take on the role of a movie producer who has been asked by the local television company to create a script for a short movie on Alzheimer`s Disease. The purpose is to educate the public in your community on the key aspects of the disease, what it is, what is presently being done in the field of brain research to alleviate the symptoms and to delay the disease. In addition you are asked to provide advice to people who have loved ones with the disease to assist them in helping both the victims and themselves in coping with the disease. You will be researching Alzheimer`s disease and using all of information and visuals such as movies on the internet, as well as accounts by people of how they coped with their parents battle with the disease. You will also provide the public with information as to how they could help as volunteers and as contributors to this cause.

Although this is a science fair project, who knows, when you complete the script you may wish to send it to the local TV channel, we might both be presently surprised!

Materials:

  • Texts in the neurosciences
  • Articles in professional magazines and research studies directly related to investigations in the neurosciences on brain physiology and functioning as well as the use of internet sources, foundations, organizations and individuals with real life experiences in dealing with victims of the disease.
  • Tape recorder
  • Tape
  • Camera
  • Tape player
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