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What is Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome due to disease of the brain, usually of a chronic or progressive nature, in which there is a disturbance of multiple higher cortical functions, including memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, and judgment. There are more than 100 different diseases that cause dementia. The most common are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and Lewy body disease.

What are the roles of physiotherapy in dementia management?

  • To improve physical function (mobility, balance, coordination and strength)

  • To reduce risk of falls – changes in judgement and spatial control contribute to tendency to fall. Exercises improve balance and reduce the fear of falling

  • To lift mood, ease stress and add calm – Exercises help to reduce the incidence of depression, agitation and aggression symptoms that are common with dementia patient

  • To improve general cardiovascular health

  • To pass time in enjoyable way-provide a sense of accomplishment from the person with dementia

  • To improve sleep – sleep disorders are common in dementia patients. Exercise can help them get into normal sleep routine

  • To slow mental decline – exercise seems to slow brain atrophy especially in the hippocampus, which influence memory and spatial navigation

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