(NaturalNews) Hypnosis therapy can significantly increase the quality of life for dementia patients by slowing the decline of their cognitive, physical and social abilities, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool and the Abacus Clinic in Newark, N.J.
Researchers split a number of dementia patients into three groups: one continuing with regular mainstream treatment, one participating in group therapy sessions that encouraged patients to discuss current events with each other, and one undergoing hypnosis therapy.
Participants in the hypnosis group showed significant improvements in measures of concentration, memory, motivation, socialization, relaxation and daily living activities, while participants in the other groups either held steady or declined in those measures.
"Over a nine-month period of weekly sessions, it became clear that the participants attending the discussion group remained the same throughout," said researcher Simon Duff. "The group who received 'treatment as usual' showed a small decline over the assessment period, yet those having regular hypnosis sessions showed real improvement across all of the areas that we looked at."
Further research will be needed to see if hypnosis therapy remains effective over the long term and in more severe cases of the disease, the researchers said. It was also not clear from the current study exactly how hypnosis slowed the progression of dementia; Duff suggested that its ability to induce relaxation might play a role.
"Participants who are aware of the onset of dementia may become depressed and anxious at their gradual loss of cognitive ability, and so hypnosis - which is a tool for relaxation - can really help the mind concentrate on positive activity like socialization," he said.
Co-author Dan Nightingale said that the hypnosis therapy used in the study could be employed clinically.
"Evidence to date has shown that we can enhance the quality of life for people living with dementia through the correct use of hypnosis," he said. "We have now developed a course for clinicians who wish to incorporate hypnosis into health care plans."