Tai Chi and Alzheimer’s (Emotional-Affective Integration Therapy)

We propose the summary of an article by Dr Romeo Lucioni with a proposal for rehabilitation:

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic, progressive degenerative dementia for which neither an aetiology nor a satisfactory pharmacological therapy has yet been found.

Although it cannot be cured, this syndrome, characterised above all by the impairment of mental and cognitive functions, allows a ‘space’ of ‘curability’ that tends to widen both due to the efficacy of new drugs and specific rehabilitation and psychotherapeutic interventions that tend to restore and restructure psychic functions.

Among these non-pharmacological therapies, the E.I.T. (Emotional-Affective Integration Therapy), which uses Tai Chi Chuan as its basis and has been structured through the experiences of sensorimotor therapy, emotional-affective therapy and expressive-relational therapy, is of great importance.

It is a psychotherapeutic intervention that, beyond psychodynamic-interpretive considerations, uses movement, sensations, emotions, affections and rational elaborations, in addition to the intuitive-instinctive ones, to give the ‘sick subject’ the possibility to restructure his own psycho-neuro-biological potentialities, thus allowing a recovery of basic functions and a real and quantifiable rehabilitation.

E.I.T. has patient-centred objectives, among which the following should be emphasised

– control of psycho-behavioural symptomatology
– restructuring of the ego’s adaptive potential;
– containment and modulation of emotional responses;
– strengthening of affective and relational availability;
– recovery of motor and perceptive potential;
– rediscovery of modulating variables that, filtered by affectivity, stimulate the ability to cope with discomfort and limitations;
– desire for self-discovery and proactive will in the search for autonomy and freedom;
– curbing the tendency to isolate oneself and ‘stagnate’ in some corner, making one take a leading rol

The observations reported so far have led to considerations of particular interest regarding the improvements achieved:

1. Reduction or disappearance of explosive and uncontrollable emotionality
2. Disappearance of flight tendencies
3. Increased expectations
4. Recovery of motor and gestural rhythm.
5. Ability to relate.
6. Transmitting one’s sensitivity to others,
7. Recovery of initiative.
8. Recovery of humour and sarcasm.
9. Recovery of mimicry.
10. Cognitive skills. Mnestic capacities

Tai Chi and senile dementia

After eight months of this light exercise, healthy Chinese seniors in a recent randomised controlled trial boasted significant brain-related benefits.

ISSUE: Although previous studies have demonstrated the ability of aerobic exercise to increase brain volume and improve memory, it is unclear whether a less intense form of exercise, particularly Tai Chi, can generate the same brain benefits.

METHODOLOGY: Scientists from the University of South Florida and Fudan University conducted a 40-week randomised controlled trial with 120 elderly people without dementia, Shanghai, China. They compared the cognitive health of Tai Chi practitioners with that of members of a group who had not undergone any intervention, with MRI examinations as well as neuropsychological measures for dementia, learning ability, and verbal fluency throughout the study period.

RESULTS: Subjects in the control group showed brain shrinkage consistent with what has generally been observed among people between 60 and 80 years of age. Participants practising Tai Chi three times a week, however, showed a significant increase in brain volume, as well as improvements in their memory and thinking test scores.

CONCLUSION: A regular Tai Chi exercise regime enlarges the brain and improves cognitive abilities in the elderly.

IMPLICATION: Since previous research has shown a link between dementia and brain shrinkage, a less intense form of aerobic exercise, such as Tai Chi, may delay the onset of this degenerative mental disease.

SOURCE: Tai Chi chuan and chronic and degenerative diseases| Lotus Centre Blog


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