Exercise therapy in early dementia

From the spring 2016 edition of Care and cure magazine, a major £2.8 million study is being launched into therapy that aims to maintain activity, independence and balance among people living with the early stages of dementia.

Dementia can affect spatial awareness and balance as well as memory, and each year 60 to 80 per cent of people with dementia experience a fall. These falls can accelerate decline in physical and mental health, so are important to address. 

Researchers at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust hope that the PrAISED (Promoting Activity, Independence and Stability in Early Dementia) trial will help reduce the number of falls and fractures among people with dementia. This could reduce and delay disability, distress and the cost of the disease's progression. The intervention could form a valuable addition to treatments offered after a diagnosis of dementia.

The study's targets include 'dual-task' activities that involve doing two things at once, a particular problem from the earliest stages of dementia which might be improved with training. The aim is to set back the impact of the condition by a year or two, to help people live well with dementia for longer.

Professor Rowan Harwood, who is leading the study, said, 'Nearly half of broken hips occur in a person with dementia and attempts to prevent these falls to date have been largely ineffective, so our new study aims to rectify that. 

'We started by looking at ways of preventing falls, but interviews with patients, carers and professionals suggested that we should focus on promoting activity, independence and wellbeing rather than emphasising the falls themselves.'