June 8, 2017
Brain health is a lifelong journey that begins with taking care of yourself, says Jonathan Rosand, MD, MSc, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“A lot of the things we are supposed to be doing for our bodies, like a healthy diet and exercise, are good for our brain,” Dr. Rosand says. Research has found lifestyle choices like meditation and continued learning can help, too.
But more research into the prevention of brain diseases is needed, Dr. Rosand explains. That’s why he co-founded and co-directs the Mass General Institute for Brain Health, which brings together patients, healthcare providers and researchers. He says the focus of the institute is to “maximize the potential of each of us by protecting and enhancing our brain function while reducing our risk of brain disease.”
The majority of the U.S. population will be affected by a brain disease of one type or another during their lifetime, whether directly or through its effect on a loved one, Dr. Rosand says. While research has uncovered many causes of brain diseases, much less is understood about how best each of us can protect our brains.
Dr. Rosand hopes that, in the future, patients will have greater access to brain specialists before they receive a diagnosis so they can reduce their risk of or prevent disease.
Brain specialists have made enormous strides in finding cures for brain diseases. Nonetheless, “treating brain disease once it happens is ultimately far more challenging than prevention,” Dr. Rosand says.
Doctors at the institute are working to change the healthcare model. Doctors from the departments of Neurology, Psychiatry and Neurosurgery see patients who have been diagnosed with brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and stroke.