Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. While the main symptoms of dementia consist of neuropsychological impairment (such as amnesia, dyspraxia, and disorientation), dementia often involves severe clinical problems, which are called behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). BPSD are usually regarded as secondary pathological reactions due to organic changes of the brain. It is acknowledged that there are cases in which the cause of BPSD lies in personal problems and individual’s life history of the patient.
We developed a clinical EMDR method for dementia in the later stage, which is simplified, uses basic words, and is applied by tapping on both sides of the body as a burst when BPSD symptoms appear, because severely demented people cannot control the recollection of a traumatic memory. We practice ongoing bilateral stimulation on the spot in such a condition, which is named the on-the-spot method for dementia in the later stage (Amano, 2009).
In this study, we applied the method of EMDR for dementia to three severely demented patients, namely, a 67-year-old female patient (early-onset Alzheimer’s disease), an 85-year-old male patient (vascular dementia), and an 83-year-old male patient (severe Alzheimer’s disease). All three cases showed remarkable improvement in BPSD.
We considered why EMDR treatment of our demented patients was effective despite damage to their brain function, which was exhibited as pathologic atrophy in the brain, particularly atrophied parts of the prefrontal cortex and temporal cortex.
I learned EMDR in the master degree of Graduate School of Clinical Psychology Hyogo University in 2006. I research the neurobiological mechanism of EMDR by a near-infrared spectroscopy in Graduate School of Medicine Kyoto University, Human Health Science Cognitive Neuroscience. As my study concept, I would like to combine theory with practice in EMDR. My job is a clinical psychologist in nursing home for the elderly, and also in Organization for Promoting Developmental Disorder Research. From experience that practice EMDR to various patients (ex. dementia, pervasive developmental disorders etc.), I study about the mechanism of effect with EMDR.