New therapy helping Alzheimer’s patients keep their independence

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center says a new grant will help patients with Alzheimer's keep their independence a little longer.

Currently, Alzheimer's affects 60,000 Oklahomans.

However, that number is expected to grow by more than 25 percent in the next decade.

The Alzheimer's Association recently awarded $100,000 to the OU College of Allied Health for a new therapy that may preserve patients' cognitive function.

The therapy is called 'Skill-building through Task-Oriented Motor Practice.'

STOMP utilizes repetitive therapy in an effort to strengthen and preserve procedural memory, the memory that allows individuals to accomplish tasks of daily living.

“Based on our previous STOMP clinical and at-home studies, we know that this method of therapy helps patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s retain their ability to perform daily life skills,” said Carrie Ciro, Ph.D., principal investigator and assistant professor of occupational therapy at the OU College of Allied Health.

In previous studies, participants practiced tasks for three hours every day, five days a week for two weeks.

“Now, we want to determine the minimum amount of therapy needed to help these patients sustain those skills and lower their risk of institutionalization,” she said.

Half of the participants will complete the skill-building activities three hours a day, five days a week for two weeks as in the original studies.

The other half will do skill-building activities one hour, two days a week for two weeks.

“The goal is to determine whether the amount of therapy makes a difference in the retention of procedural memory,” Ciro said.

Recruitment for the newest STOMP clinical trial is already underway. To qualify for the study, individuals must:

-          Be between the ages of 55 and 80

-          Have mild to moderate dementia

-          And live at home with a spouse or caregiver.

Participation in the study is limited.

To learn more about the study, call (405) 271-2131.