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UC student highlights importance of physical activity in dementia care

Tara Corcoran

3 July 2018: University of Canberra physiotherapy student Matthew Boom has won high praise for raising awareness of the benefits physical activity has on people with dementia.

Mr Boom took out first prize in Dementia Training Australia’s National Storytelling Competition for his eye-catching poster that captured how physical activity improves quality of life for people with dementia.

The third-year student was one of six people from around Australia who were named as winners in the national competition.

Mr Boom designed an infographic entitled Maintaining Adventure with Dementia to raise awareness of the role physiotherapy plays in dementia care.

“Winning first prize absolutely took me by surprise,” Mr Boom said. “When I entered, I thought even if I could get second or third place it would be great exposure of the role physiotherapy plays in dementia care. I’ve always had an interest in dementia as I’ve been working in residential aged care for about three years.

“This competition was the perfect opportunity to combine my physiotherapy studies with my interest in dementia care.”

While physical activity as part of dementia care is still in its infancy, Mr Boom hopes to highlight the benefits of keeping active.  

“It’s not normally the first thing that people think of when they think of Alzheimer’s or dementia,” he said. “They might not think about the importance of staying active and how that might help the person. That was the main thing I wanted to communicate.”

Second and third year undergraduate students were asked to explore a salutogenic approach to dementia care in a medium of their choice. Salutogenesis focuses on factors that support health and wellbeing, shifting away from a more traditional, pathogenic focus on risk and problems.

This year was the first time the competition opened to all multimedia formats, not just essay writing.

“Infographics can’t replace research papers, but more academics are realising that infographics can provide a good overview to generate initial interest,” Mr Boom said.