Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Let’s Talk About Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive degeneration of brain tissue that results in a decline in the brain's ability to function properly. It is the most common form of dementia and the fourth leading cause of death among adults.It is now predicted that 1 on 2 people over the age of 80 will get Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease is devastating to both sufferers and their caregivers. In addition to the typical memory loss, individuals with Alzheimer's gradually lose their ability to reason, communicate, recognize family members, and carry out simple tasks of daily life. They may become disoriented, bewildered and frustrated, and experience dramatic mood swings. Motor skills are often impaired.
The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is unknown, though theories include viruses, autoimmune disorders and environmental issues. While the causes aren't well understood, researchers have found that people with Alzheimer's have brain cells that become damaged and die. This in turn lowers the levels of neurotransmitters produced, creating signaling problems in the brain.

The Three Stages Of Senile Dementia of The Alzheimer's Type (SDAT)

In the early stage there will be recent memory loss, inability to learn and retain new information, language problems, mood swings and changes in personality. Patients may have difficulty performing activities of daily living (e.g. balancing their checkbook, finding their way around, or remembering where they put things). They may be unable to think in the abstract and use proper judgment. Irritability, hostility and agitation may occur in response to loss of control and memory.” “Patients may be alert, making it difficult for the practitioner to uncover problems with cognition. However, families may be reporting strange behavior (e.g. the patient's getting lost on the way to the store or forgetting who a recent dinner guest was).

  In the intermediate stage of SDAT the patient is unable to learn and recall new information. Patients frequently get lost, often to the point of being unable to find their own bedroom and bathroom. Although they remain ambulatory, they are at significant risk for falls or accidents secondary to confusion. Memory of remote events is affected, but not totally lost. The patient may require assistance with activities of daily living (e.g. bathing, eating, dressing, toileting). Behavioral disorientation occurs in the form of wandering, agitation, hostility, uncooperativeness or physical aggressiveness. At this stage, the patient has completely lost his sense of time and place, since normal environmental and social cues are ineffectively utilized. Neuroleptic agents or antianxiety drugs may be required to stabilize the patient.

The severe or terminal stage of SDAT finds the patient unable to walk, totally incontinent and unable to perform any activity of daily living. Patients may be unable to swallow and require nasogastric feeding.

They are at risk for pneumonia, malnutrition and pressure necrosis of the skin. They are totally dependent on their family caregiver, or a long-term care facility. Eventually they become mute. 

Looking at this bleak scenario makes it obvious the disease is not just a catastrophe for the patient, but for their family. Since the course of the disease extends over many years, it is especially hard on the spouse who often becomes the caretaker of the patient at home.

The Upledger Institute states that in addition to conventional measures - which may include medication and behavior therapy - modalities such as CranioSacral Therapy can play an important role in a comprehensive therapeutic approach.

Environmental and Risk factors:

  • Increased incidence of inflammatory response in aging humans.

  •  Decreased flow of Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) in an aging population.
  •  Women have double the risk of being affected with Alzheimer’s in later life than men.
  •   Dietary factors are high-calorie/high-fat diets, excessive amounts of dietary iron and copper, and low intake of folic acids/folates and antioxidative nutrients such as Vitamins C & E.
  •  Low demands on intellectual function, which seem to correlate with increased occurrences of Alzheimer’s.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle. Mental and physical exercise seems to help.
  •  History of head trauma.
  • Increased oxidative stress that heightens oxidative damage in the brain tissue.

     Why Is CranioSacral Therapy Important?

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a clear, colorless liquid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. While the primary function of CSF is to cushion the brain within the skull and serve as a shock absorber for the central nervous system, CSF also circulates nutrients and chemicals filtered from the blood and removes waste products from the brain. When we are young and healthy we have an average of 800 ml a day of Cerebral Spinal fluid circulating in and around our brain, and vertebral column that helps keep our brain and spine healthy and well nourished.  As we approach middle age, that is often reduced by half and in Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients it is as low as 200 ml a day.

The Cerebral Spinal Fluid helps to remove heavy metals and toxins across the blood brain barrier and distribute nutrients. When there is less flow of Cerebral Spinal Fluid there is more of a chance the toxins will become trapped and start to “clog up” the brain with plaque and deprive the brain of essential nutrients. This important cleansing or washing effect by the Cerebral Spinal Fluid helps to make sure that these harmful toxins do not accumulate and affect our brain tissue.Inflammation in the body that is the result of certain diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease and others can accumulate and “overflow” across the blood brain barrier and also affect the brain.  In many cases it was noted that patients with Alzheimer and Dementia had a previous history of at least one chronic disease processes.

Still Point  


Increasing the Cerebral Spinal Fluid may benefit Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients.  In 2008 a study was published in the American Journal of Gerontological Nursing called CranioSacral Stillpoint Technique: Exploring its Effects in Individuals with Dementia.  It was reported that regular administration of the Stillpoint Technique had  beneficial effects over an extended period on patients with moderate to severe Dementia. By increasing the volume of Cerebral Spinal Fluid, the CranioSacral Therapy Stillpoint Technique helps to calm the body and lower the body wide inflammatory response. 
The Upledger Institute states that in addition to conventional measures - which may include medication and behavior therapy - modalities such as CranioSacral Therapy can play an important role in a comprehensive therapeutic approach.
CranioSacral Therapy can help improve the internal environment of the central nervous system to ease the harshness of symptoms and potentially slow the deterioration process. It has also been suggested that this particular therapy could well serve as a preventive measure due to its ability to enhance circulation of cerebrospinal fluid.

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The medical information provided here is an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.