For the past three decades, research has linked traumatic brain injury with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, research shows that the way “traumatic brain injury changes brain chemistry indicates a relationship between traumatic brain injury and hallmark protein abnormalities linked to Alzheimer’s.” Many medications are on the market to treat the condition, but research has shown that occupational therapy can help improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease as well.
According to HealthDay, many practitioners say occupational therapy can help keep Alzheimer’s patients safe at home. Occupational therapy consists of a therapist helping a patient, and the patient’s family, develop treatment plans that help the patient improve with daily activities and occupations. As stated by the The American Occupational Therapy Association, the primary aims of occupational therapy are “nhancing function, promoting relationships and social participation, and finding ways for those with dementia to enjoy life.”
Occupational therapists say an Alzheimer’s patient’s ability to care for himself or herself can be prolonged by using procedural memory. This can be accomplished by the patient using the same procedures and routines at the same time. These routines, such as eating, bathing and getting dressed, can help Alzheimer’s patients remain as independent as possible. For instance, occupational therapists will have Alzheimer’s patients complete certain tasks, such as putting on clothing, in a certain order.
Occupational therapy can help preserve the emotional connection between Alzheimer’s patients and their families, therapists say. The practice of occupational therapy is also helpful for caregivers by decreasing their burden.