Clemson researchers use football memories to help dementia patie - FOX Carolina 21

Clemson researchers use football memories to help dementia patients

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(FOX Carolina)/December 21, 2017 (FOX Carolina)/December 21, 2017
CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Researchers at Clemson University are looking to battle dementia - with memories of Clemson football.  The research team was made up of faculty and graduate students from the University's Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department.

The idea first started a few years ago, when Gregory Ramshaw, an associate professor in the department noticed something happening in the UK. 

"They were looking at battling dementia and cognitive impairment through sport," he said, "But it wasn't clear how they did it."

So he got in touch with his colleague, Brent Hawkins, an assistant professor in recreational therapy, about how they could bring the idea and execute it in the Upstate.  Four years later grant money came through, and the program kicked off this fall.

Ramshaw said, "We thought, why don't we theme it around something local that would resonate with a lot of the local population here, which is of course Clemson football."

The research team worked with Brookdale Senior Living Solutions in Central to find participants for their new Clemson Football Reminiscence Therapy Program. 

Hawkins explained what that therapy is: "Reminiscence therapy is the use of multi sensory tasks and objects and memorabilia to help people with dementia, recalling memories they might not have been able to recall for a really long time."

The team worked with participants over six sessions, and both researchers say the program was embraced in a big way.  Right now, researchers say they are still sifting through their data, but early results look good when it comes to treating the side effects of dementia, like apathy and isolation.

The researchers say they hope to get another grant that would allow them to take the materials they used to guide the sessions and put them up online.  The goal would be to rework some of the project and make it usable for caretakers.

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