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Visceral Manipulation for Dementia and Alzheimer's

Visceral manipulation is all about treating organs and surrounding structures to improve mobility and function. Most commonly we think of organs like the stomach or intestines but the brain is also an organ we can treat within our practice. Similar to other organs in the body, the brain can lose mobility related to history of head trauma, concussions, diet, etc. and when it loses movement, its function can be impaired. The health of the brain also depends on the quality of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) movement. CSF is constantly flowing around our central nervous system and is responsible for the transportation of nutrients that nourishes the brain and spinal cord. Areas of tension or pathology around the brain will result in a reduction of CSF flow which can have many negative effects.

A very tangible example of the important relationship between CSF flow and brain function can be observed in the pathological processes seen in individuals with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown up to a 75% reduction in CSF flow compared to normal adults in individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s. In individuals with Alzheimer’s, the flow of fluid into the brain essentially dries up as a result of plaque formation. This results in damage to neuronal and vascular structures necessary for cognitive function and a clogging of the glymphatic structures that are essential for waste clearance in the central nervous system.

So, what can we do with visceral manipulation? The techniques that we can use to reduce restrictions and improve mobility within the brain and nervous system aim to improve the flow of CSF. A 2017 study demonstrated that visceral manipulation manual therapy techniques can help to decrease agitation, increase responsiveness, improve thinking abilities, and improve communication skills within this population. We cannot reverse the pathology taking place but we can help to reduce the stress on the central nervous system to allow for changes in function.

Additionally, our goal as physical therapists is to promote longevity and optimal quality of life. To us, that encompasses brain function, organ mobility, and physical functioning. Our skills as visceral manipulation providers and physical therapists can help to improve the quality of life for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s in addition to their loved ones and caretakers.

At Invincible in Denver, CO, we want to help you get back to feeling your best! Contact us today with any questions you have about our services and book your appointment today.