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An innovative intervention for the treatment of cognitive impairment–Emisymmetric bilateral stimulation improves cognitive functions in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment: an open-label study

Authors Guerriero F, Botarelli E, Mele G, Polo L, Zoncu D, Renati P, Sgarlata C, Rollone M, Ricevuti G, Maurizi N, Francis M, Rondanelli M, Perna S, Guido D, Mannu P

Received 23 June 2015

Accepted for publication 31 July 2015

Published 18 September 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 2391—2404

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S90966

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Prof. Dr. Roumen Kirov

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Fabio Guerriero,1–3 Emanuele Botarelli,3 Gianni Mele,3 Lorenzo Polo,3 Daniele Zoncu,3 Paolo Renati,3,4 Carmelo Sgarlata,1 Marco Rollone,2 Giovanni Ricevuti,1,2 Niccolo Maurizi,1 Matthew Francis,1 Mariangela Rondanelli,5 Simone Perna,5 Davide Guido,2,6 Piero Mannu3

1Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Therapy, Section of Geriatrics, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy; 2Agency for Elderly People Services, Santa Margherita Hospital, Pavia, Italy; 3Ambra Elektron, Italian Association of Biophysics for the Study of Electromagnetic Fields in Medicine, 4Alberto Sorti Research Institute, Medicine and Metamolecular Biology, Turin, Italy; 5Department of Public Health, Experimental and Forensic Medicine, Section of Human Nutrition, Endocrinology and Nutrition Unit, 6Department of Public Health, Experimental and Forensic Medicine, Biostatistics and Clinical Epidemiology Unit, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy

Background and aims: In the last decade, the development of different methods of brain stimulation by electromagnetic fields (EMF) provides a promising therapeutic tool for subjects with impaired cognitive functions. Emisymmetric bilateral stimulation (EBS) is a novel and innovative EMF brain stimulation, whose working principle is to introduce very weak noise-like stimuli through EMF to trigger self-arrangements in the cortex of treated subjects, thereby improving cognitive faculties. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate in patients with cognitive impairment the effectiveness of EBS treatment with respect to global cognitive function, episodic memory, and executive functions.
Methods: Fourteen patients with cognitive decline (six with mild cognitive impairment and eight with Alzheimer’s disease) underwent three EBS applications per week to both the cerebral cortex and auricular-specific sites for a total of 5 weeks. At baseline, after 2 weeks and 5 weeks, a neuropsychological assessment was performed through mini–mental state examination, free and cued selective reminding tests, and trail making test. As secondary outcomes, changes in behavior, functionality, and quality of life were also evaluated.
Results: After 5 weeks of standardized EBS therapy, significant improvements were observed in all neurocognitive assessments. Mini–mental state examination score significantly increased from baseline to end treatment (+3.19, P=0.002). Assessment of episodic memory showed an improvement both in immediate and delayed recalls (immediate recall =+7.57, P=0.003; delayed recall =+4.78, P<0.001). Executive functions significantly improved from baseline to end stimulation (trail making test A -53.35 seconds; P=0.001). Of note, behavioral disorders assessed through neuropsychiatric inventory significantly decreased (-28.78, P<0.001). The analysis concerning the Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment group confirmed a significant improvement of cognitive functions and behavior after EBS treatment.
Conclusion: This pilot study has shown EBS to be a promising, effective, and safe tool to treat cognitive impairment, in addition to the drugs presently available. Further investigations and controlled clinical trials are warranted.

Keywords: pulsed electromagnetic fields, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, Emisymmetric bilateral stimulation

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