PHYSIOTHERAPY AND DEMENTIA

When caring for someone with Dementia, mental capacities will begin to decline at a steady or fast rate depending on the severity of the condition. Physiotherapy can improve the mobility of those living with dementia, it can slow down their cognitive deterioration – providing a better quality of life.

 

WHAT IS DEMENTIA?

Dementia can be described as symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. These disorders can mess with one’s memory retention but also cognitive such as: thinking, language, perception, judgement, behavioural patterns and can negatively impact ability to perform everyday tasks.

 

Dementia is the second leading health concern among adults after cancer. Dementia affects Australian’s 65 years and over and can be classified as the leading cause of death among Australian females.

 

TYPES OF DEMENTIA

Dementia isn’t as easy as one classification there are multiple branches under the one, here are the different forms:

  • Cortical Dementia: associated with damage that primarily affects the brain’s cortex or outermost layer causing problems with memory, language, thought processing and behavioural patterns.
  • Sub-cortical Dementia: associated with damage that primarily affects the part of the below the cortex, causing issues with emotions, movement and memory.
  • Progressive Dementia: describes dementia that gradually gets worse causing problems with more cognitive abilities as it develops
  • Primary Dementia: dementia that is not caused by another disease or injury
  • Secondary dementia: dementia caused by another disease or injury

 

SYMPTOMS OF DEMENTIA

The early signs of dementia are forgetfulness, other symptoms associated with dementia include:

  • Memory impairment – inability or impaired ability to retain new information or recall past information
  • Aphasia – inability to understand or produce speech
  • Apraxia – inability to perform motor activities despite motor functions being available
  • Agnosia – inability to recognise or identify objects despite having the sensory abilities
  • Inability to plan, organise, sequence or think

 

Dementia affects one’s way of life dramatically, it can lead sufferers to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, with depression affecting a huge 20-30% of sufferers and anxiety affecting 20%. As you can imagine, dementia can be very difficult to come to terms with.

 

PHYSIOTHERAPY CAN HELP

Physiotherapy is considered to be an active effective treatment option for people with Dementia. Have you ever heard of the saying ‘what’s good for your heart, is good for your brain’.

 

Which evidently, working on cardio fitness, healthier physiological habits and caring for your body as a whole is a productive way to prevent the onset of dementia. Dementia physiotherapy focuses on the goal of creating more independence for people living with dementia in two major ways:

  • Promoting a physically active lifestyle which helps with both physical and mental health
  • Educating carers and family members about home safety ideas, strategies to reduce falls and injuries, and communication techniques to improve everyone’s quality of life

Suzanne graduated from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Health Science (Sports and Exercise Science) in 2015. She then went on to continue her studies at Macquarie University graduating from the Doctor of Physiotherapy post-graduate degree in June 2019.

Since graduating, Suzanne has worked in the local Penrith area in both private practice and Sports Physiotherapy. Suzanne has worked with sporting teams including Penrith District Netball Association, Mt Druitt Rangers (NPL), Penrith Valley Figure Skating Club, and local dance and cheer schools. 

Suzanne has a particular interest in working with artistic athletes including cheerleaders and dancers. She has a professional background in both cheer and dance and has previously worked as both a cheer coach and dance teacher. Suzanne’s previous experiences are an invaluable resource to her as a physiotherapist, as she has a thorough understanding of the level of physical fitness and skill acquisition that these athletes must have in order to be successful on stage and in competition.

Suzanne’s other areas of clinical interest reside in lower limb musculoskeletal injuries, spinal pathologies and women’s health.

Nathanial graduated as a physiotherapist in 2012 which saw him work in private practice and hospital settings gaining experience in all areas of physiotherapy including hand therapy, splinting/casting, pre/post-operative care, Men’s Health and general musculoskeletal, occupational and sports physiotherapy. Since then he has gone on to complete further studies in physiotherapy enabling him to be the only dual titled Musculoskeletal, Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist in Penrith.

Nathanial has a strong background in sports physiotherapy achieving accreditation with NSWIS as a service provider and working with many elite sports teams.

Nathanial has a particular interest in working with elite athletes, complex cases and in particular assessment and management of knee, hip and shoulder pain.

Andrea graduated from the Australian Catholic University completing her Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science in 2018 and Master’s of Clinical Exercise Physiology in 2020. After graduating she attained accreditation with ESSA as an Exercise Physiologist.

During her studies she gained clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings, working in the cardiac rehabilitation program, heart failure service and mental health unit at Nepean Hospital. And at the ACU Exercise and Lifestyle Clinic working with clients with neurological conditions, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

Since graduating, Andrea enjoys working with a variety of clients. She has a particular interest in treating musculoskeletal injuries and neurological conditions, striving to help people increase their functional capacity to get them back to work, sport or the things they love doing.