Patients with Alzheimer’s disease who participate in occupational therapy sessions experience clinical benefits over the intervention period, suggests an observation study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

These benefits, which French researchers observed during the intervention and stabilization period, include a reduction in behavioral troubles, caregivers’ burden, and the amount of informal care.

In light of these results, the researchers suggest that occupational therapy should target early dementia stages in order to optimize its clinical benefits.

The study was conducted on a network of 16 specialized Alzheimer team in Aquitaine, South West of France, and was supported by the regional agency of Health (Agence Régionale de la Santé d’Aquitaine). Participants included 421 Alzheimer’s patients who had been referred to occupational therapy by their general practitioner or memory clinics and who had been followed up to 6 months, according to a media release from IOS Press.

Investigators studied the patients’ clinical evolution between their receipt of 15 home sessions of occupational therapy and a 3-month period thereafter, and between 3 and 6 months’ follow-up.

The study’s results suggest that behavioral troubles, the caregivers’ burden, the amount of informal care provided by caregivers, and the patients’ quality of life were significantly reduced over the 3-month intervention period and remained stable thereafter.

In addition, the release continues, the patients’ cognitive performances remained stable over the 6-month study period and functional performances remained stable over the 3-month intervention period but were significantly reduced thereafter.

Moreover, the researchers suggest that patients who had been diagnosed more recently and those with milder cognitive deficits may gain more benefits from occupational therapy in terms of functional decline or caregivers’ burden decline.

“Future studies should explore more in detail which sub-groups of patients could gain more benefits from OT as well as its long-term clinical effects notably on global care quality and users’ satisfaction” writes lead author Clément Pimouguet, per the release.

[Source(s): IOS Press, Science Daily]