I recently attended a seminar that explained how certain therapies can make incredible differences in the lives of those suffering from dementia. These therapies, called Behavior Based Ergonomics Therapy (BBET) do not use medication, but promote engagement with individualized therapeutic activities to bypass resident stress caused by boredom and disengagement.
There are several levels to explain, so I will take them one at a time in different articles to simplify each step. In this article, I will attempt to illustrate how dementia develops, and how these therapies work toward using the parts of the brain least affected, allowing those suffering from dementia to become engaged.
How Dementia Progresses in the Brain
So first, an explanation of how dementia progresses in the brain. People are primarily dominant in the left brain, we see this because most are right handed. The left hemisphere of the brain holds centers in charge of language, analysis and reasoning, sequencing and computation. The right side holds the control centers for emotions, creativity, music and the like.
As we age, the right and left brain grow together, but as we exit childhood, the left brain takes off, while the right side grows more dormant. In the left, we learn more complicated things, larger words, and complex ideas – through our education process. The right brain is not ignored, but it is certainly not the focus of education in most cases. So we have much more stored and going on in our left brain than our right brain.
So how does this affect the way dementia progresses? Think of the information in your brain as a city. We have larger cities built up in our left brain. In these cities we have lots of roads and highways that transmit information. In the right brain, we have small towns with country roads.
As dementia progresses, these highways and roads are blocked, so the information can’t travel to the areas needed for thought processes. There is a lot more information being blocked in the left brain, simply due to the fact that there are more roads to block.
This leaves freer movement of information in the right side, because the road blockers aren’t finding the country roads as easily as the city highways. So the therapies in BBET, concentrate on utilizing the information that is accessible in the right brain to engage dementia patients. Focusing on emotions and feelings and senses promotes more engagement and helps give a better quality of life, as well as decreases behaviors.