Wall Street Journal: The Benefits of Bright Light for Hospital Patients

Debi Buzanowski

Alzheimer’s specialist Debi Buzanowski, executive director of Eddy Memory Care at Marjorie Doyle Rockwell Center in Cohoes, was featured in a Wall Street Journal story about the center’s work with the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to study the effect of lighting on dementia patients.

From the story:

Sinai worked with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., which has a Lighting Research Center. Its director, Mariana Figueiro, an architect with a background in biology, helped design light fixtures for the randomized trial, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute. The fixtures can provide dim light or circadian-stimulating high-intensity light. Any type of light can affect circadian rhythms, Dr. Figueiro says, “as long as you develop the right spectrum [or color] and the right intensity.” Strong fluorescent lights could work, although people tend to prefer light-emitting diodes or LEDs.

Rensselaer’s Dr. Figueiro has been tinkering with light in elder-care facilities to ease Alzheimer’s patients’ agitation and sleep disorders. She says institutional lighting leaves much to be desired. “In hospitals, you have light 24 hours [a day] but really we need light during the day and no light at night when we are asleep,” she says.

Two years ago, Debi Buzanowski was an Alzheimer’s specialist at the Marjorie Doyle Rockwell Center in Cohoes, N.Y., during a study using lights from Rensselaer with some dementia patients. She recalls that one resident went from being a recluse to becoming far more engaged. In January, Ms. Buzanowski was appointed executive director and says revamping the lights is a priority.

Facilities are beginning to understand lighting’s effect on health, Dr. Figueiro says, giving rise to a new buzzword: “circadian light.”

Click here to see the full story.

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