The effects of therapeutic art therapy on cognitive function in post stroke older adults at the University Teaching Hospital

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Ng'uni, Alice
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The University of Zambia
The population of older adults with stroke in Zambia is rapidly growing and reports of cognitive impairments such as that caused by stroke are becoming more prevalent. There is evidence that as people get older their cognitive abilities gradually deteriorate. Aging is said to have diverse effect on cognitive function especially in older people as it is associated with relatively little cognitive decline. This review presents available evidence regarding the benefits of art therapy and therapeutic arts interventions for post stroke survivors with cognitive impairment. Whilst available evidence is very limited, it suggests that art therapy may address many of the diverse cognitive, emotional and functional needs of people disabled by stroke. Attention, spatial processing, sequencing and planning seem to improve among those who persist with art therapy. Use of the stroke-affected limb may increase. Several studies report improvements in social interaction, and emotional expression. Most published reports offer single case examples, which are idiographic and illuminating. Art therapy a form of psychotherapy involving the encouragement of free self expression through painting, drawing, or modeling used as a remedial or diagnostic activity. (Kim, 2008:130). Aim: This investigation explored whether art therapy could provide cognitive benefits among the population of older adults which is often excluded from research on aging and cognition. Methods: A randomized controlled trial was used. A sample of 100 participants was recruited aged 55 to75 years old. Results: In order to evaluate cognitive functioning two tests were administered as pre and post intervention. Results showed that the mean change in scores among interventional group members was significantly greater than that of the control group (p< 0.05=.048 t=1.68, p=.048). There was significant improvement of cognitive performance among interventional group members as compared with the control group. This indicates that art therapy as a treatment modality provided a medium effect size (d=.064). Conclusion: The aim of the study was to evaluate the efficacy of art therapy as an intervention to improve cognitive functioning among older adults with stroke. The results suggested that art therapy may positively affect cognitive performance. Additionally the results suggested that art therapy may be culturally competent therapeutic approach. Keywords: Art Therapy, Alzheimer Disease, Older Adults Cognitive Functioning, And Stroke.
Cognitive--Treatment--Zambia , Stroke--Older adults--Treatment--Zambia