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Working Out the Mind and Body!


According to the WHO, dementia is the seventh leading cause of death worldwide and one of the major causes of disability among older people. Dementia is a group of conditions that affect the brain, causing problems with memory, thinking, communication, and behavior. Dementia has many forms, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and more. 

How Physical Activity can Help!

Physical activity is often recommended for people with dementia. While exercise is certainly beneficial to everyone, the evidence for exercise's effect on dementia symptoms is mixed. Most studies do show that exercise can help delay or reduce symptoms like depression, or apathy. Some studies also show a benefit in delaying or reducing cognitive declines. 

However, for people with dementia, it doesn't appear as simple as "exercise and symptoms improve." Studies have shown that the type of exercise, duration, and frequency all make a difference. For example, one study showed that people with dementia who engaged in dance movement therapy had less depression and better physical function. A second group of people who performed other types of exercise at the same intensity did not see those benefits. This is where physical therapists come in. 

Why Physical Therapy?

A therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation of the person’s medical history, physical condition, cognitive status, functional level, and personal interests. Based on this information, the physical therapist will design a personalized treatment plan that includes specific exercises and activities that target the areas that need improvement.

The treatment plan may include:

The physical therapist will monitor the person’s progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed. Rather than a general approach to exercise, a physical therapist provides specific, targeted and evidence-based interventions. These can help people with dementia manage symptoms, improve their physical and mental health, as well as their quality of life. Physical therapy can also provide support and guidance to people with dementia and their caregivers, helping them cope and adapt to the changes and challenges that come with this condition.

What to do next?

Has you or someone you know been diagnosed with dementia and wonder what to do next? Give us a call if you are in the Arlington, Falls Church, Annandale, or surrounding areas to schedule an appointment. If you are further way, look up a physical therapist near you to help get you moving and improving. 


About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association
Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the healthcare system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit
Alana Hamilton Alana Hamilton is a physical therapist at Advantage Physical Therapy in Falls Church, Virginia. She is a proud Hokie from Virginia Tech with a major in Biology and a minor in psychology and sociology. Following graduation, she immediately got her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Radford University. She is an avid fan of Pilates, running, and hiking. On the weekends, she can be found hanging out with her family and baby as well as doing Spartan races with her old physical therapy classmates and friends. She is a big believer that during rehabilitation, "Motion is the Lotion" and that staying active is key to remaining healthy.

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