Global postural reeducation in patients with Alzheimer's

...is it an alternative therapy for patients in nursing homes?

It is estimated that by 2025, up to seven million people aged 65 and over will be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This condition is nowadays very common among the elderly population around the world.

Although curative treatments are being investigated, previous studies have shown that diagnosing this disease as early as possible is a key issue, since it may help going through this condition more efficiently, while improving quality of life. Prevention is also another tool to live with and limit AD consequences, especially through physical activities such as gymnastics or movements.

Although less known and less used, postural methods are also of interest as they specifically bring people to focus on the sensations through a movement or a posture, involving physical and respiratory (especially slow and deep exhalation) input. Global postural reeducation (GPR) therapy is well known among the various postural methods and focuses on muscle lengthening as well as breathing (which is impacted by body or mind alteration and which also impact body, mental and emotional functioning in return).

In this RCT, the authors aimed to analyse the benefits of the GPR therapy in patients with Alzheimer's, especially with regard to concentration and self-limited capacity, through physical and respiratory exercises. They found  improvements in this population in terms of cognition, mood, behavioral disorders, balance and quality of life.

The authors found that participants who followed the GPR programme showed significant improvements in the outcome measures assessed (cognition, mood, behavioural disorders, balance and quality of life), with the exception of the respiratory rate frequency which did not significantly differ between groups.

These results suggest that postural therapy is a useful tool in treating patients with AD.

> From: Todri et al., Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 48 (2019) 172-179 . All rights reserved to Karger AG. Click here for the online summary.

Expert opinion

From a research perspective, this study is follows up on a previous pilot randomised controlled trial and shows a high quality level according to the PEDro score (8/10).

The various improvements highlighted in this study are in line with a recent systematic review focusing on people with mild cognitive impairment and showing a significant improvement of the global cognitive functioning after a programme of body-mind exercises (slow physical movements, stretching, relaxation, breathing and concentration.

GPR is particularly interesting as it works on the basis of postures in extension while activating muscle groups in an integrated way and therefore facilitating flexibility and strength.

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