Researchers at the National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan found that providing 15-minute treatment sessions twice a day for five days a week yielded considerable benefits. But once the four-week treatment period ended, agitation levels started to rise again, suggesting that acupressure needs to be provided on an ongoing basis.

20 patients were studied over six weeks, including one week before the treatment started and one week after it finished. 70 per cent of the patients suffered from severe behavioural disturbances, with a further five per cent suffering from extremely severe impairment. The remaining 25 per cent were classed as medium.

An average pre-treatment score of just over 79 was recorded on a specialist scale developed to measure agitation levels. After four weeks’ treatment this had fallen to just under 60. “Agitated behaviour in people with dementia is a major concern for caregivers” says co-author Professor Li-Chan Lin from the Institute of Clinical Nursing at National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan. “It can endanger patients and others, make it necessary for them to be moved from familiar surroundings and demoralise and psychologically distress caregivers.”

In week one, before the acupressure treatment began, physical attacks were given an average score of 5.53. These included pushing, beating, scratching and pinching. Agitation levels were measured daily and by week two, when the treatment began, the physical attack score had fallen to 1.46. By week five, the last week of treatment, the score had fallen to 0.53. In week six, when the treatment had stopped, the figure rose to 2.17. Similar patterns were recorded for non-physical and non-verbal agitation, which included wandering, stealing, undressing and tearing things.; Source: Blackwell Publishing