New Chevy Chase brain center says it can boost memory

Ribbon cutting of the NeurExpand Brain Center in Chevy Chase, with Dr. Majid  Fotuhi holding the ceremonial scissorsMemory loss doesn’t have to be an unavoidable consequence of aging, according to the folks at the new NeurExpand Brain Center in Friendship Heights.

Financed by former top executives from a nutritional supplement company and led by  Dr. Majid Fotuhi, the office was the scene of a crowded ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday featuring elected officials, doctors, local business leaders and retirement community professionals.

Fotuhi, a Baltimore County neurologist who’s shared his approach to boosting memory on The Dr. Oz Show (among others), started his own clinic dedicated to reversing memory loss in aging adults.

With backing from David Abramson and Steve Dubin, the former executives at since-sold Martek Biosciences, Fotuhi and his team of doctors say they’ve tailored a comprehensive, weeks-long program that can help exercise and enlarge the hippocampus — the part of your brain that helps with learning and memory.

As people age, the size of the hippocampus tends to shrink. But with the right combination of healthy eating, sleep patterns, fitness and management of other risk factors, Fotuhi says that process can be reversed.

“One of the most common misconceptions is that when you start to lose your memory, it’s Alzheimer’s. There are a lot of different things that go into that,” said NeurExpand Chief Operating Officer Chris Lindsay. “Eating, sleeping, fitness level. It can be related to anxiety or depression. We bring the patient in who has a memory complaint and try to tease apart which of those multiple risk factors are contributing, or in what order.”

NeurExpand says its Brain Fitness Program is covered by Medicare and most insurance companies.

A neurologist at NeurExpand would typically start by testing a patient’s vitamin levels and an MRI test to measure the patient’s hippocampus. The office provides consultations on better diet habits, exercise routines, meditation and even a balance and fall prevention risk assessment.

“Right now, you might walk into a neurologist’s office and they may run a few tests, the mini-mental test is a well-known one,” said NeurExpand’s Kevin Lance. “They say, unfortunately, you may have Alzheimer’s or you might not. Here’s a pill. We take it to the next level. We work on lifestyle changes to correct any issues.”

The company has big expansion plans, including a group of offices in Northern Virginia. At Tuesday’s grand opening, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Councilmember Roger Berliner and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman spoke about the apparent health benefits of NeurExpand and its contribution to the local economy.

Ulman, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, was familiar with NeurExpand from its Columbia office and with Abramson and Dubin from Columbia- based Martek.

Abramson described the Friendship Heights location (5550 Friendship Blvd.) as the perfect place to put such an operation. The office had a soft opening in June.

“You have density here. You have a higher socio-economic demographic. You have more people here who are more mindful and more apt to take action,” Lindsay said. “There are more people here who might say to themselves, ‘This is not like what I’m used to so I’m going to do something about it,’ instead of ‘I’m just getting old.’”

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