Targeting the Prefrontal Cortex with Assisted Cycle Therapy (ACT) to Improve Sleep in Adult Down Syndrome (DS) Populations
Individuals with Down syndrome (DS) display significantly earlier symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) beginning around age 35. Because AD-like symptoms tend to be ever present in those with DS, it is difficult to accurately evaluate those with DS for earlier onset of AD. It has been suggested that physical activity and sleep are potential measures to monitor for manifestations of early AD-like symptoms in people with DS. Our lab has previously shown remarkable improvements in physical activity, cognition, and motor control while using Assisted Cycle Therapy (ACT) for adolescents with DS, Parkinson's disease (PD), and stroke populations. This novel exercise intervention is suggested to mediate improvements in cerebral activation through upregulated neurogenesis, angiogenesis, and neuro-plastic mechanisms. Despite prior research, there remains to be limited studies behind these concepts in adults with DS and sleep, which is suspected to be an accurate metric for AD-like manifestations. Fifteen older adult participants with DS were assigned to one of two cycling interventions: ACT or VC. All participants were provided Fitbit HR devices for sleep and physical activity tracking. Only five adults had viable continuous collection of data for both sleep and physical activity. While none of our results reached conventional levels of significance, there were trends towards significance in the VC group for total steps taken and in the ACT group for sleep-onset latency (SOL). Individual cases of improvement were noted but it globally can be supported that Fitbit devices are not optimistic for adults with DS due to poor long-term compliance. It comes to no surprise to those involved with these groups that cooperativity tends to be low with long term interventions in research design. In spite of this significant barrier, Fitbit devices offer to be a reliable and inexpensive record keeper of physical activity and sleep. Future research should lean to investigate the viability of Fitbit devices within younger populations, the role of heart rate variability on sleep efficiency and sleep onset latency in DS, and utilize more extensive compliance reinforcement to obtain volume of data collection needed to establish significant measurements of physical activity and sleep in populations with DS.