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Alzheimer's Disease Physiotherapy
Research estimates that at least 5 percent of people over age
65 and more than 40 percent of people over the age of
85 have Alzheimer's disease. Together with memory loss and other cognitive
problems, patients with Alzheimer's disease may have difficulty performing
simple tasks of daily living. Physiotherapists partner with families
and caregivers to help people with Alzheimer's disease keep moving
safely and delay worsening of the condition.
What Is Alzheimer's Disease?
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive condition that damages brain
cells and affects
- how we speak
- how we think
- how we interact with other people
It's the most common cause of dementia, and refers to a group of
brain disorders that cause a decline in memory and the ability to
perform daily activities.
Alzheimer's disease is the fifth leading cause of death
among adults over age 65 in the United States, after heart disease,
cancer, stroke, accidents, and respiratory disease.
The risk of getting Alzheimer's disease increases with age; it's rare
to get it before age 60. Having a relative with Alzheimer's disease
raises your risk of getting it, but most people with the disease do not
have a family history of it.
One of the major symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is confusion. Of course there
are several other potential causes of confusion, some of which may be
reversible if discovered early such as infections or head injuries, both of which requires quick and early interventions and can be treated.
Signs and Symptoms
There are 10 important warning signs of possible Alzheimer's disease:
- Memory changes that disrupt daily life
- Difficulty making decisions, especially in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion about time and or place
- Trouble understanding visual images or the way things physically fit together (spatial relationships)
- Finding the right words to say when speaking or writing
- Misplacing items and losing the ability to retrace your steps
- Poor or decreased judgment about safety
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood or personality
People with Alzheimer's disease also may get lost in once-familiar
In the later stages of the disease, they might get restless and
wander, especially in the late afternoon and evening (this is called
"sundowning"). They may withdraw from their family and friends or see or
hear things that are not really there.
They may also unfortunately falsely believe that
others are lying, cheating, or trying to harm them.
Along with these "cognitive" symptoms, people with Alzheimer's
disease may develop difficulty performing simple tasks of daily living
in the later stages of the disease. Eventually, they may need assistance
with feeding, bathing, toileting, and dressing.
The physical ability to
walk is usually retained until the very last stage of the disease;
however, due to confusion and safety concerns, people with Alzheimer's
disease may need supervision or an assistive device to help them get
How Is alzheimer's disease Diagnosed?
The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease remains unknown and is most
probably due to many factors, which makes diagnosis difficult.
Researchers are getting closer to making a diagnosis by using brain
imaging studies such as
- computed tomography scan
- magnetic resonance
- positron emission tomography (PET) scan or
These tests can show abnormalities in brain structure or function.
Mental function tests, cerebral spinal fluid tap, biomarkers, and
genetic testing also can be used to help make a diagnosis. But unfortunately a
definitive diagnosis can be made only on autopsy.
Our senior physiotherapists may play an integral role in recognizing
early signs or symptoms of this disease. If they recognize you or your
loved one is exhibiting signs or symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s,
they will make an appropriate referral to the necessary specialist.
How Can our senior physiotherapists help
For patients with Alzheimer's disease, research shows that:
- Physical activity can improve memory
- Regular exercise may delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease
- Regular exercise may delay the decline in ability to perform activities of daily living in people who have Alzheimer's disease
As the movement experts, our senior physiotherapists can design exercise
programs for patients with a variety of health conditions, including
In the early and middle stages of Alzheimer's disease, our senior physiotherapists will focus on keeping patients mobile and help them continue to
perform their roles in the home and in the community.
In the later
stages of the disease, they can help people keep doing
their daily activities for as long as possible, which reduces the burden
on family members and caregivers. They also may instruct
caregivers and family in how to improve safety and manage the needs of a
loved one with Alzheimer's disease.
Physical therapy can help improve
quality of life and possibly delay the need for institutionalization (ie long term warding in hospitals or step down care or nursing home placement).
People with Alzheimer's disease develop other conditions related to aging, such as
Our senior physiotherapists are trained to treat these
conditions in people who have underlying Alzheimer's disease. Therapists
take into account the impact of the disease on other health conditions,
on general health, and on the individual's ability to understand
The therapist may use various teaching methods, techniques to simplify instructions, and unique approaches, including:
- Visual, verbal, and tactile cueing - We provide "cues such as pointing to objects or gesturing. For
instance, lifting up both arms can signal the person to stand up. Cues
can also be given verbally with short, simple, or one-step instruction.
Tactile clues holding someone's hand to have them walk with you.
Sometimes, 2 or 3 cueing techniques are used simultaneously.
- Mirroring - With this technique, we serve as a "mirror," standing directly in front of the person
to show them how to move. To help the person raise his or her right
arm, the therapist's left arm would be raised.
- Task breakdown - We're trained in
how to give step-by-step instruction by breaking down the task into
short, simple "pieces" to be completed separately. For instance, if the
therapist wants to teach a person how to safely move from lying in bed
to sitting in a chair, the therapist might have the person practice
rolling to the side, then pushing up to sitting, then moving to a chair
in separate steps.
- Chaining- We can provide
step-by-step instructions by linking one step to the next step in a more
complicated movement pattern. This technique usually is used once task
breakdown has been successful and unites the separate steps of moving
from lying in bed to sitting in a chair, to make it one fluid movement.
- Hand over hand facilitation - We take the hand or other body part of the person who needs to
move or complete a task and moves that body part through the motion.
Although people with Alzheimer's disease usually maintain the ability
to walk well into the late stages of the disease, balance and
coordination problems often lead to walking difficulties. Our senior physiotherapist will train the muscles to "learn" to respond to changes in the
environment, such as uneven or unstable surfaces.
Train Family Members and Caregivers
The family and caregiver may need instruction in how to safely move,
lift, or transfer the person with Alzheimer's disease to prevent injury
to the caregiver as well as the person with Alzheimer's disease.
addition to hands-on care, our senior physiotherapists will provide caregiver
training to improve safety and to decrease the risk of injury. For
instance, we can show caregivers how to use adaptive
equipment and assistive devices, such as special seating systems, canes,
or long-handled reachers, and how to use good "body mechanics" (the way
you physically move to do a task).
For patients with Alzheimer's and dementia, we often recommend for house call/home visit physiotherapy because patients with dementia will benefit/prefer a familiar environment (which also will decrease distraction).
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Phoenix Rehab physio Services
Phoenix Rehab Group works with specialist
physiotherapists and rehab therapists who are highly
trained, qualified, experienced and passionate to provide high level of
expert care to our patients.
PHYSIOTHERAPY & PHYSICAL THERAPY
HAND THERAPY & SPLINTING
Patients who sustained injuries to their elbows, forearms, hands, wrists
(sprains and fractures) and fingers, and requires Hand Therapy to increase the function of their hand
following injuries or post-operations as well as custom made hand splints.
Commonly treated hand pain injuries includes
CLINICAL PILATES & WELLNESS PILATES
Clinical Pilates is a form of physical exercise that focuses on
- core stability
- flexibility and
It is a system of safe and effective exercises, which
meet specific individual needs, to treat a wide range of injuries
You may do Pilates as matwork or with the reformer or both, and every session will be customized 100% to your fitness, injury and tolerance.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM)
DEEP TISSUE RELEASE & SPORTS MASSAGE THERAPY
Sports and deep tissue release massage helps to increase nutrient-rich blood
flow to tired, tight and tense muscles to
- accelerate recovery and
- shorten downtime / recovery period required
It also prevents
muscles from scar tissue micro-tears (and potential ruptures), and increases muscle
Done regularly, it will keeps your muscles healthy and fit with body/movement-confidence. Read the benefits of regular deep tissue release therapy here.
All our allied health therapists and TCM physicians are fully insured and registered with Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) and Traditional Chinese Medicine Board (TCMB).
See our entire team here with introductions and their specializations.
At the first session, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough
assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to
help you recover as well as provide treatment in the same session.
Follow up sessions are inline to provide
expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific
exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term
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