“The future is not only rehabilitation but trying to prevent people from having loss of functions and let good brain health habits prevail”. With these words, the Managing Director of the Institut Guttmann, Josep Maria Ramírez, kicked off the IV Meeting of Volunteers of the Barcelona Brain Health Initiative, which was held virtually on December 16, 2020 and was attended by 200 people.
The goal of the event was to present the 2020 achievements thanks to the volunteers involvement. “The BBHI is only possible with your effort, commitment, time, answers, recommendations, warmth and support,” stressed Josep Maria Tormos, Research Director of the Institut Guttmann. It was also celebrated that just a few days before milestone of 1,000 volunteers who had undergone medical tests during the second phase of the project had been reached.
The researchers underlined the importance of the effort made by the participants, with a very important goal: “The difference between maintaining brain health or not depends on many things, but above all on things that are not part of medical care: lifestyle, exercise, sleep, psychological factors, diet, cognitive activity… Our challenge is to turn all this into a personalized medical action for each one,” said the Scientific Director of the BBHI, Álvaro Pascual-Leone.
Challenges and findings of 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has also been a challenge for the BBHI. The Principal Investigator of the project, David Bartrés, presented the preliminary results of the study specifically designed this year to determine which psychological aspects determine that some people are particularly resilient to the pandemic and lockdown, with the aim of defining prevention guidelines in case of future pandemics.
The neuropsychologist Gabriele Cattaneo presented the main findings that relate psychological factors -such as personality, negative thinking or vital purposes- with neurodegenerative pathologies. And the biomedical engineer Javier Solana presented the next steps for 2021: completing the medical evaluation of the 1,000 participants, improving the usability of Guttmann Cognitest and implementing the Brain Health Coaching App to promote healthy lifestyle habits among the volunteers.
The meeting of volunteers was part of the XXXII Technical Conferences of the Guttmann Institute, celebrated on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the institution. The conference, with the collaboration of “la Caixa” Foundation, Biocat and the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona, included the Brain Health for Life course, which was held on 15 and 16 December to discuss the latest advances in brain health promotion.