Acupressure Decreases Agitated Behavior in Dementia

Posted July 02, 2007 by Acupuncture & Massage College & filed under Acupuncture and Massage College


Massage could offer a drug-free way to treat agitation and depression among dementia patients, according to a review that appears in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing. Researchers at the National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan found that providing 15-minute treatment sessions twice a week for five days a week yielded considerable benefits, including reductions in verbal and physical attacks and wandering.

“Agitated behavior in people with dementia is a major concern for caregivers,” says co-author Professor Li-Chan Lin from the Institute of Clinical Nursing at National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan. “It can endanger patients and others, make it necessary for them to be moved from familiar surroundings and demoralize and psychologically distress caregivers.” Twenty patients were studied over six weeks, including one week before the treatment started and one week after it finished. All lived in dementia units at a long-term care facility.

Of the patients, 70 percent suffered from severe behavioral disturbances, with a further five per cent suffering from extremely severe impairment. The remaining 25 percent were classed as medium. An average pre-treatment score of just over 79 was recorded on a specialist scale developed to measure agitation levels. After four weeks’ treatment this had fallen to just under 60. Pre-treatment agitation was highest in the 59-65 and 80 plus age groups.

In week one, before the acupressure treatment began, physical attacks were given an average score of 5.53. These included pushing, beating, scratching, and pinching. By week two, when the treatment began, the physical attack score had fallen to 1.46. By week five, the last week of treatment, the score had fallen to 0.53. In week six, when the treatment had stopped, the figure rose to 2.17. Similar patterns were recorded for verbal attacks and non-physical and non-verbal agitation, which included wandering, stealing, undressing, and tearing things.

“Our study showed that providing patients with acupressure twice-daily for five days a week significantly reduced agitated behavior and wandering,” says Lin. For more information about AMC’s 7-_ month Massage Therapy diploma program contact Joe Calareso at (305) 595-9500.

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