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The Fight Against Dementia – How Physiotherapy Can Help

[1]Dementia is an awful disease that can affect the mind and body in various ways. This can be anything from severe memory loss to struggles with thinking and language. While the symptoms may appear mild at the beginning but gradually they will start to worsen and really effect the sufferer’s daily life. This will in turn lead to changes in mood and behaviour. In some cases, it may even make a dementia patient violent.

There are many different types of dementia that can all be helped by physiotherapy. Some of these are: cortical dementia, derived from brain damage, progressive dementia that gets worse over time and many more.

Dementia takes place when the brain is damaged by a series of strokes or when patients contract Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is actually one of the leading causes of dementia, although there are several others.

How Does Physiotherapy help?

[2]Physiotherapy rehabilitates more than just the body after an injury – it helps the mind as well. Using techniques such as massage, exercise and manual therapy, physiotherapy soothes all kind of mental illness, for example, depression and anxiety.

[3]A neurological physiotherapist is the best match for someone diagnosed with dementia. They encourage independence through fall prevention exercises and instruct carers on home improvements that will also ensure safety. This helps with the smallest of tasks: things such as walking, getting out of bed climbing stairs. The increase of independence will improve the patient’s mood as their morale goes up as their fear of injury and embarrassment goes down. This also takes some of the pressure off of family, friends and carers. If suffers know they are upsetting the people around them it can make them feel worse. This is why independence is so important and why it must be kept for as long as possible.

Therapists work with the patient to assess factors that restrict their physical movement and the tasks they are not able to perform daily. They will also work with the patient’s carer to ensure that they will be able to keep their independence as long as physically possible. This will also boost the sufferer’s self-esteem and mood as they do not feel so helpless. It provides a better quality of life for the patient as well as everyone around them. Exercise is a huge factor in this. It benefits their mood which can mean that less medication is needed and the person with dementia can enjoy more social interaction. Together all of this has a positive impact on all symptoms of dementia or early Alzheimer’s disease. Classes and support groups are managed and organized by physiotherapy clinics. Physiotherapy also helps with balance and reduces the risk of injuries due to falling – something in which dementia sufferers are particularly vulnerable. Therapists will work with the patient and carer to help strengthen the person’s balance and posture – with this advice the risk of falls drops significantly.

Physiotherapy isn’t the cure, but it’s a start.