Become a cognitive wellness provider, joining a $13 billion industry
ACCORDING TO A STUDY OUT OF THE MAYO CLINIC, Alzheimer’s begins in the brain 20-30 years before it is diagnosed.1 Currently, 6 million Americans have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to rise to 14 billion by 2050.
Brain training opportunities
Alzheimer’s and dementia awareness has created an incredible demand in the brain training industry as more and more patients are becoming proactive in trying to reduce their risk of this horrible disease.
However, the brain training market has grown beyond seniors seeking to preserve basic memory as they age. This market now encompasses gamers, students and young/middle-age adults who are keenly aware that higher-stressed lives negatively impact their mental performance, so they are seeking natural means to sustain cognitive acuity and energy.
Technology is also playing a role in the growth of the cognitive wellness industry. The digitalization of cognitive training has made it more accessible for a broader range of people. The availability of online cognitive training games and apps has made cognitive training more affordable, convenient and user-friendly. Additionally, advances in neuroscience and brain imaging technology have led to a greater understanding of how the brain works and what factors can impact cognitive function. This has allowed companies in the cognitive wellness industry to develop more effective products and services.
Companies now offer games and exercises designed to improve memory, attention and focus. In fact, one company currently has over 100 million users. These products have become increasingly popular in recent years as more people seek out ways to stay mentally sharp and prevent cognitive decline.
What is brain training?
Brain training involves using brain exercises to stimulate specific neurological pathways associated with visual memory, auditory memory, concentration, processing speed, pattern recognition and tracking.
Brain training is based on the concept of neuroplasticity. Scientific research has shown that mental activity increases oxygenation, nutrition, synaptic connections and the number of neurons in the brain. This represents a physiological process known as neuroplasticity and it optimizes memory retention and attention performance. It also increases the brain’s capacity to cope with the effects of aging or neurodegenerative diseases.
Neuroplasticity depends on three factors:
- First, to strengthen and increase synaptic connections, the brain must be stimulated. Stimulation of the brain drives specific pathways in the brain depending on the stimulation. If we stimulate pathways related to memory, then we are driving more electrical signals through those pathways.
- Second, neuroplasticity requires repetition. As those pathways are used over and over, the synapses in those pathways become stronger and stronger. Think of it as a toll road where the toll booths represent the synapses. When the traffic backs up, more toll booths need to be opened to accommodate the increase in traffic. Opening more tollbooths is synonymous with creating new synaptic connections.
- And third, neuroplasticity requires consistency over time. In our toll booth example, if traffic dies down on that road, then the tollbooths close. This is the same thing that happens to the synapses of a neurological pathway that is no longer used. The pathway becomes weaker and weaker until it shuts down.
However, cognitive wellness is more than just brain training. Lifestyle adjustments can go a long way toward brain health.
For example, several well-done studies have shown that reducing chronic inflammation through diet and supplementation enhances cognitive performance and may help reduce the risk of dementia. In addition, it is important to remember that improving sleeping habits will also enhance memory as sleep plays a vital role in memory consolidation and retrieval. Also, studies from Harvard and the Mayo Clinic have proven that social interaction and physical exercise can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by 40%.
The Finger Study is a multiyear study of 1,260 adults at risk for cognitive decline. In this study they found that brain training and lifestyle changes improved overall cognitive performance by 25%.2
In another study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014, researchers examined 19 patients suffering with memory impairment. They measured the volume of gray matter of different areas of the brain using MRI imaging. Then, those 19 patients did brain training exercises specifically for episodic memory. At the end of two months, they measured the gray matter again. Researchers found significant increases of gray matter volume in the brain regions responsible for episodic memory (hippocampus).3
Last year one company conducted a study of five individuals, ages 48-59 years old. Each participant was given an interactive cognitive assessment that measured components of memory and cognition. They each received a baseline overall cognition score and were each prescribed a customized brain exercise protocol. For the next 30 days, each participant utilized a brain exercise tool for 15 minutes, three times per week. At the end of 30 days, each participant was given an interactive cognitive assessment, and their scores were compared to their baseline scores. Based on this comparison, their scores demonstrated a 16.2% overall improvement in just one month.
Becoming a cognitive wellness provider
Several companies offer a membership that allows you, the chiropractor, to offer and charge for these brain training services.
In this scenario, the chiropractor pays a flat fee that gives them access to the entire platform as an administrator and allows them to sign up patients for the program. Patients will then have full access to the brain training program that includes brain exercises, cognitive assessments, gamma entrainment and lifestyle suggestions. Patients are able to access the program from any phone, tablet or computer, making brain training easy and convenient. You can then charge your patient for the service being provided.
For example, one company charges a flat fee of $65 per month to the chiropractor. This allows the chiropractor to sign up an unlimited number of patients to the program. The average chiropractor charges $10-20 (or more — it’s up to you) per month to the patient. In this scenario, signing 10 patients up to the program each month (at $15 per month) yields a net profit of over $43,000 in just two years. The best part is that once the patient is signed up for the program, the chiropractor does not have to do anything else. At that point, the company does all the work in managing the patient and the results over time, and it is a passive revenue stream for the chiropractor that will continue to grow as more patients are added.
Look for a program that charges an affordable flat fee and provides a complete marketing program specifically tailored for chiropractic patients. Chiropractors are primed to tap into this market and create a passive revenue stream that will last for years to come. Chiropractic patients already understand the concepts of wellness and prevention. Brain training is just an extension of the chiropractic philosophy and can benefit patients of all ages.
GUY ANNUNZIATA, DC, BCN, graduated from Life University in 1992 and has been at the forefront of brain health. He recently began a company called CerebroCore, which is a brain training program that focuses on enhancing cognitive performance through personalized training programs, lifestyle modifications, gamma entrainment and the latest neuroscience-based techniques. To learn more, email email@example.com.
- Caselli, RJ, Langlais, BT, Dueck, AC, et al. Neuropsychological decline up to 20 years before incident mild cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s Dement. 2020; 16: 512– 523.
- Ngandu T, Lehtisalo J, et al. A 2 year multidomain intervention of diet, exercise, cognitive training, and vascular risk monitoring versus control to prevent cognitive decline in at-risk elderly people (FINGER): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2015;385:2255–2263
- Engvig A, et al. Effects of cognitive training on gray matter volumes in memory clinic patients with subjective memory impairment. J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;41(3):779-91. doi: 10.3233/JAD-131889. PMID: 24685630.