Researchers in Nottingham have launched a £2.8 million study to help people with early stages of dementia – in a bid to cut out broken bones and hospital stays.
The degenerative condition causes a loss of memory, judgement and balance, and up to 80 per cent of patients have falls every year as a result of their declining health.
But a team of researchers at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust have been awarded a £2.8 million grant from the National Institute for Health Research to create and test new therapies to help tackle the problem. And the scientists believe they can help set back the progression of the disease by a year or two.
Leading the study, Professor Rowan Harwood said:
“The number of people living with dementia is increasing rapidly as the population continues to age, and problems associated with dementia have become a major public health issue. -Professor Rowan Harwood
“Nearly half of broken hips occur in a person with dementia and attempts to prevent these falls to date have been largely ineffective.
“Interviews with patients, carers and professionals suggested that we should focus on promoting activity, independence and well-being rather than emphasising the falls themselves. We have been developing a programme over the past 4 years that combines balance exercises, advice on undertaking daily activities confidently and safely, and a grown-up attitude towards what risks are worth taking and what are not.”
Staff will now test the programme in Nottingham and Derby by comparing groups of people with early dementia who are given usual care, with those given the new therapy programme.
The team will study how the programme works in practice, including the role and impact on families, and how it can be incorporated into existing services and facilities. An economic appraisal will decide whether it is value for money.
Ian Weatherhead, senior nurse for charity Dementia UK said: “This project is a positive step in developing skills training for individuals which in turn may help reduce the risk of falls. This is another step in the right direction to support people with dementia.”
Another target of the project, which is being carried out alongside Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Nottingham Citycare Partnership and Bangor University, is to help people trying to do two things at once – which is a particular problem from the earliest stages of dementia.
The team will carefully focus on individual’s abilities, interests and goals, to make taking part worthwhile for them. They will work with people with mild dementia who are at risk of deterioration and will look for benefits and impact on disability, rate of falling, activity levels, memory and quality of life.
Clinical specialist for the Nottingham CityCare Falls and Bones service, Marie Ward said: “There is a huge need for research in this area. In the past two years the amount of referrals to the Falls and Bones service has increased by 38% and a significant number of these patients have cognitive impairment or have been diagnosed with dementia.”
Find out more about the Promoting Activity, Independence and Stability in Early Dementia (PrAISED) research programme.
Posted on Friday 15th January 2016