before and after
Grandma S, 88 years old
The day before, eighty-eight year old Ms. S said goodbye to all of the caregivers at the Lu Dao nursing home after being discharged from the nursing home to go back home. Up until she could leave the nursing home to go home, neither her family nor the caregivers believed that dementia could improve. The resident did not know at all that she had been diagnosed with dementia, so for her it only felt like a nightmare.
She did not know at all when her son sent her to the nursing home five years ago. Up until three months ago, she realised why she had been arranged in the ward without having any health problems. Before this, she also could not remember at all when she started to live at the nursing home (her memory for the past eight to ten years is a complete blank). It was from that moment on that she knew from her family that she had been diagnosed with dementia and that is why she lives at the nursing home.
She does not remember when she started to show symptoms of dementia. She only remembered that she was going to get the newspaper for her family from the mailbox one morning as a daily routine. After she stood up, she suddenly did not know which way is to the mailbox. At that time, she gave herself a big scare and she thought to herself if there is something wrong with her brain. How come she does not remember how to get to the mailbox from her own home? Why does she not remember how to get there? After this, she became very worried and it was probably when she was sleeping that she had cerebral anemia. She became panicky all day.
Yet, the same situation did not occur again. It was when she almost forgot about this that the same situation occurred again. This time it happened when she was out. She became lost on the road close to her home that she is extremely familiar with. She could not remember the way to go home but luckily she ran into her next door neighbour. She was too embarrassed to tell her the truth so she just chatted to her on the one hand and on the other hand followed her leading her back to her home. Then, this situation with her sudden memory loss occurred many more times. She thought that if she told her son about this he would just say 'Mum, you must have dementia', so she tried to conceal this and not let her family feel that she is abnormal.
However, she became more and more worried and became uncalm. She would gradually get into conflicts with her family because of little things; when she wakes up and wants to go to the kitchen she does not remember how to; when she wants to go to the toilet she also does not know where the toilet is and when she cannot hold it in she just lets it out and so on. At that time, the fear that she felt inside was indescribable.
Her first contact with Patakara at the hospital
Six months ago, she received a phone call from the nursing home to say: 'There is a type of oral muscle training device, Patakara. There is no need to spend money but there is no guarantee on the outcome, if you want to try'. If you are willing to try, there are some agreement papers that your family needs to sign and for them to go to the hospital to read through the agreement papers thoroughly then sign afterwards'. The caregiver said that you only need to put the Patakara between your upper and lower lips then just close your mouth. To be honest, when I first saw it, I thought to myself, I really do not believe that something so simple can treat something like dementia that so far has been incurable or should I say impossible. Though due to everybody normally taking care of my mother-in-law and since there is this opportunity, I accepted the recommendation.
According to the caregiver's explanation, when closing your mouth, it will increase the burden of the lip muscle below the skin of the lips. This burden's effect will stimulate the facial muscle linked to the oral muscle. In particular, the forehead's muscle will be affected the most in which the forehead's muscle will promote heat and then it can increase blood flow to the right frontal lobe. The outcome so far has already gained proof from using the infrared imaging machine. Yet, the principle in the following part that is to be discussed is unclear. It has been reported that from a long time ago, it has been known that there is lesser blood flow in the right frontal lobe of dementia residents. However, there has been no evidence to prove that it is precisely because of lesser blood flow in the right frontal lobe that causes dementia. Although we can prove that Patakara can increase blood flow to the right frontal lobe, we cannot guarantee that it can cure dementia, as up to this point, no one has tried it.
Then I asked the caregiver: 'Does it hurt a lot when using Patakara?' The caregiver smiled and replied: 'No. I heard that the stretching of the facial muscles can tighten the face. So I also use it every day. It is only putting the Patakara between your lips then just close your mouth. It does not hurt one bit. Apart from that, many people use Patakara to increase oral muscle strength increase to improve snoring.' After listening to the explanation, I signed the use agreement papers.
This is the key to allow my entire family's lives to recover to what it was before. This is the beginning of something that nobody in the world can imagine. According to what the caregiver told me, before helping my mother-in-law test/measure her oral strength, when the chief of the nursing home told my mother-in-law: 'Ms. S, to help you recover quickly, we invited a doctor from Tokyo to see you. At that time, my mother-in-law said with her head down: 'My head is already damaged, there is no hope'. This is the condition of my mother-in-law before she started the project of using Patakara to increase cerebral blood flow. Other than my mother-in-law, there were three other residents aged between eighty-seven and ninety-four years old that also participated in this project.
Grandma S's recount of the experience
Looking back, before a young man called Mr. T came to help me every day with Patakara exercise, I was like an alive dead person. It was that young man who helped me to feel alive again. Yet, I did not know anything at the start of the first month. The people around me, in particular, I did the exercises when the young man told me to. I was completely passive. Afterwards, I heard that it was about after one and a half months that I started to be able to do the exercises myself. Actually about after one month, I cannot exactly describe that feeling but when I woke up, I felt that my brain had gradually improved. That kind of feeling is really indescribable but I just knew that it had improved. I was very happy that my brain function had recovered, leading me to look forward to the young man to come see me.
The caregiver would come see me once or twice every day, and the language and hearing instructor would sometimes come see me once or twice. That young man would always come once every day to guide me with doing my exercises. Since the people at the nursing home are so busy, they sometimes forget about my situation. So, if it were not for that Mr. T enthusiastically guiding me to do my exercises every day, then it would be impossible for me to be in the recovery condition that I am in today.
After doing the Patakara exercises for two months, my memory became clearer. Sometimes when I saw Mr. T come and did not come directly to see me but went someplace else first, I would get jealous and deliberately give him a hard time.
After three months, I would not urinate everywhere even if I did not wear a nappy. I can now go to the toilet myself and also know that I am not a baby, so of course I do not need to wear a nappy. At the same time, I became more active to want to have a shower. When my brain was not good and I wanted to take a shower, I did not know how to get to the bathroom or whether the clothes I was wearing are clean or dirty. I can now go to the bathroom to take a shower by myself and I can also put on my own clothes after taking a shower.
An interview by the young man Mr. T who devoted the most to Grandma S's rehabilitation
The first time I saw Ms. S was when I went to test/measure her lip closing strength before her use of Patakara. She would have her head down and not want to talk to anyone nor respond to anyone. At the time, Grandma S's lip closing strength was 2.4N the first time, the second time was 1.0N and the third time was 1.8N. Her measurements were unstable (for a normal eighty-year old woman, her lip closing strength should be an average of 5.6N-5.8N). The ears send a signal to the brain to close the mouth but the brain is unable to process this signal, so the message delivered from the brain is unclear and so this may also be the reason for wanting to close the lips but unable to do it accurately.
At first, I was very worried about whether or not Grandma S was willing to do Patakara exercise. Grandma S told me that up until before she did not have a job, apart from being the wife of a fisherman, she also managed a convenience store. She was someone that did everything actively.
It was after observation that I realised, for someone who made decisions on everything, she seemed disappointed after being diagnosed with dementia. Yet, when confronted with new things, she was more daring to try and challenge it. However, for someone who listens to her husband's arrangements on everything or is afraid to do something herself and waits for someone to direct her, she was more unaccepting of new things and it was very hard to persuade them to try it after being diagnosed with dementia. Actually, whether it's someone with lower intelligence or someone with dementia, most people with brain disease are very indecisive at first when people want to put something into their mouths. However, Grandma S is one that you can more easily put a Patakara in her mouth.
This shows the use of Patakara for about 5 months by elderly patients with severe dementia at Kashima Hosptial, Shimane Ken. During each month, intelligence test, lip closing strength measuring and recording of conversations with patients are carried out. Grandma KK started out from not being able to do test questions at all -> Answered 1/3 of questions correctly -> Answered 1/2 of questions correctly. The content of her daily conversations in the end already included her being mindful of her mouth being open when eating and so on learning issues, remembers the content of conversations she had with other people a few days ago, understands the instructions of caregivers etc.
Feburary 4, 2003
Intelligence Test: Unable to answer
Lip closing strength: 3.2N 1.7N 2.3N
Time: 40 minutes
April 7, 2003
Intelligence Test: Answered 1/3 of questions correctly (16 questions out of 36 questions)
Lip closing strength: 3.6N 3.3N 4.2N
Time: 36 minutes 38 seconds
June 21, 2003
Intelligence Test: Answered more than 1/2 of questions correctly, gained 8 points
Lip closing strength: 2.2N 2.1N 2.2N
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
When taking a photo of KK using her meal, she told the photographer "I feel at ease when seen eating with my mouth wide open"