A study has shown that acupressure massage therapy may benefit patients with dementia, soothing their agitation and aggression. Of course, it is recommended that the acupressure massage therapy be given only by a licensed massage therapist or LMT.
Dementia patients, such as those afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease, are known to be restless and easily angered. They may exhibit disruptive anti-social behavior and may even become violent. Their actions may defy logic and they may wander aimlessly and become lost if left unattended. This poses a problem to family members and other caregivers such as the staff of nursing homes.
A study done in Taiwan and published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing in February showed that acupressure calmed the aggression of patients with dementia. The study included 31 dementia afflicted patients from a nursing home. For the first four weeks of the study, the participants were given 15 minutes of acupressure massage therapy two times a day, five days a week. On the next four weeks of the study, the researchers visited and talked to the 31 participants for 15 minutes a day.
In comparison, the researchers found that the acupressure massage therapy produced more immediate results and was more effective than talk in comforting the dementia patients and making them calm down. The overall instances of aggressive behavior of the participants lessened during the four weeks in which they were undergoing acupressure massage therapy.
The results confirmed the results of another recent study which showed that similar forms of touch therapy could also soothe the agitation of people with dementia. The common finding was that the human touch has the capability to heal.
Acupressure is a technique of traditional Chinese medicine which combines elements of acupuncture and massage. It has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years now. The main difference between acupuncture and acupressure is that acupuncture uses needles while acupressure uses the therapist’s hands.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that qi or the life force flows throughout the body through 14 primary meridians, keeping the body in its best health. There are 400 to 500 points along the meridians called acupoints. Some of these are believed to correspond to certain organs and organ systems. When there are blockages in the meridians, the flow of qi is affected and health is compromised. The blockages are removed by acupuncture through the insertion of very fine sterilized needles in the appropriate acupoints. In acupressure, the therapist uses fingers, knuckles and even elbows to apply pressure on the appropriate acupoints. Sometimes, special devices are used to apply pressure to hard to reach areas in the body. Both acupuncture and acupressure stimulate the meridian system to stimulate the body’s own natural regulating, balancing and healing system. In terms of traditional Chinese medicine, this is equivalent to balancing yin and yang.
Western medical science questions the anatomical basis of the qi, the meridians and the acupoints. Traditional Chinese medicine is much older than Western medical science, though. The meridians are not considered as physical anatomical structures but as energy pathways.
In the end, what matter most to the recipients are the effects of any therapy system on their afflictions. Given the results of scientific study, even if Western medicine cannot explain how acupressure massage therapy works, it does have therapeutic effects. In this case, it has been proven to calm down the aggression of patients with dementia.
A licensed massage therapist or LMT will be able to offer not just acupressure massage therapy but other massage therapy modalities, as well, such as reflexology massage therapy, shiatsu massage therapy, craniosacral massage therapy, deep tissue massage therapy, sports massage therapy and pregnancy massage therapy. A licensed massage therapist with extensive experience also does insurance billing for people in auto accidents since many of their clients have been involved in such accidents.