Letter to the Editor

My experiences as exercise instructor of rehablitation sports with people living with dementia

For now eight years I have gathered with great joy experiences in prevention sports as ski gymnastics, back muscle training and general fitness with different groups.
Some weeks ago I was breaking new grounds when I gained my license as exercise instructor of neurology rehabilitation sports from the disabled sports association of North-Rhine-Westphalia.
I approached my new task completely unaware, and realised how, after some stumbling from exercise hour to lesson, I found my way in better and better. I began to realise that even people with major disabilities, sitting in a wheel chair, can be won over to motion,  if I devote myself to them – certainly within their limits. This I experienced with a female participant who in the first lesson sat motionless, with a set look in her wheel chair. Suddenly a smile flickered across her face and she began to turn her feet or threw her arms up in the air. I was very taken with her activity which I could educe. Something similar happend with a participant who tended to be aggressive. Using my gestures and facial play as aid I gave her a Redondo-ball in her hands which she kneaded with her fingers imitating me or put it from one hand to the other with a smile. My heart opened in the truest sense of the word!
It was very interesting for me to witness how the slightly fitter participants are able to perform fine motor exercises, for example pressing a peg with the thumb and then alternating with all fingers.
I also experienced similar things with other exercises, which I initially wanted to omit, because they require a great deal of skill. To my astonishment, they have been mastered by some [participants].
To hit a bowl in the middle of the circle of chairs with small bags or beer mats in frisbee-style was a lift for all. Naturally the self-esteem of the sportspeople increased considerably.
Each sports lesson starts and closes with a playful ritual and is assigned with verses which many participants join in even after a few lessons. Simply wonderful!
A male participant is always very helpful and hands the tracksuit top to me at the end of the training and helps collecting the small sport equipments like beer mats, ballons and bags.
All in all, a very fulfilling activity for me, like balm on the soul.
Interesting to undergo how broad the spectrum of sport is, beginning with the commercial high-performance professional sport, ambitioned hobby sport, popular sport, prevention and health promoting sport through to rehabilitation sport for people with handicaps.
In the latter case sport, play, fun, motion with all their bio-psycho-social positive effects have priority.

Werner Voss, Wiehl (Germany)

(Translation Current Concerns)

Prevention is always better than healing

In connection with the important article by Rita Brügger [Current Concerns No 7, 3 April 2018 (https://www.zeit-fragen.ch/en/editions/2018/no-7-3-avril-2018/demence-lapproche-dune-maladie.html)], which encourages us to accompany the persons affected by dementia with increased benevolence and understanding, I would like to refer to the book “Tout savoir pour éviter Alzheimer et Parkinson” (Editions Le Rocher) [All worth knowing on the prevention of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s] by the French professor Henri Joyeux.
Henri Joyeux is honorary professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Montpellier (France). He is a retired surgeon specialised in cancers and therefore neither neurologist nor gerontologist nor psychiatrist. His careful observations, studies and researches on the basis of many national and international publications have enabled him to find ways to limit or even to prevent the disease. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are not a matter of fate – prevention is always better than healing!
The prevention of these diseases depends on many factors. It takes a lot of experience and understanding, because it is a question of holistic health and not just cerebral.
A book that can be recommended to all interested or affected people.

Nicole Duprat, retired teacher, France

(Translation Current Concerns)