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Acupressure May Help Dementia Patients

Regular acupressure treatment helps reduce agitated behavior in dementia patients, according to a small study by Taiwanese researchers.

Acupressure involves the application of pressure to certain points of the body.

This study of 20 dementia patients found that 15-minute acupressure sessions given twice a day, five days a week, led to noticeable improvements, including reduced wandering and less verbal and physical aggression.

During the sessions, each of five key pressure points was pressed for two minutes using three to five kilograms of pressure. The sessions lasted for four weeks. After the end of that treatment period, patient agitation levels started to increase again. That suggests that dementia patients require acupressure therapy on an ongoing basis, the researchers said.

The study is published in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

The findings have "important implications for the future care of dementia patients," study co-author Professor Li-Chan Lin, of the Institute of Clinical Nursing at National Yang-Ming University, said in a prepared statement. According to Lin, the study shows that acupressure "provides an effective option that, following training, can be carried out at home or in long-term care facilities."

"Agitated behavior in people with dementia is a major concern for caregivers. It can endanger patients and others, make it necessary for them to be moved from familiar surroundings and demoralize and psychologically distress caregivers," Lin noted.

"It is very important that we find interventions that enable us to provide more effective care for (dementia patients), both in their own home and in long-term care facilities," Lin said.

HealthDay News, January 26, 2007