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Dr. Salvador Simó from the Universitat de Vic - Universitat Central de Catalunya, Barcelona, will be presenting on Art and Dementia at Riverview Health Centre

Treating dementia patients creatively

Spanish researcher presents on connection between art therapy and dementia

June 5, 2017 — 

For his first visit to Manitoba, Dr. Salvador Simó isn’t taking things easy.

The occupational therapist and the man responsible for research in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Barcelona’s Universitat de Vic – Universitat Central de Catalunya will be delivering a series of presentations next week on the connection between art therapy and mental health.

On June 5, the U of M’s College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences will be co-hosting, with the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, a presentation by Dr. Simó entitled ‘Art and Dementia’ at the Riverview Health Centre.

Who: Dr. Salvador Simó, occupational therapist and head of research in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Universitat de Vic – Universitat Central de Catalunya, Barcelona

What: Art and Dementia: Art as an instrument of well-being and social inclusion for people with dementia

When: Monday, June 5, 2017, 1:30pm – 3:30pm

Where: Thomas Sill Auditorium, Riverview Health Centre, One Morley Avenue, Winnipeg

On Tuesday, June 6 he and his wife, Professor Maria Kapanadze, will also be presenting in the morning in the Helen Glass Centre at Fort Garry campus and in Theatre B at noon.

According to Simó, art plays an integral role in fostering mental health.

“Art and culture are very powerful mediums to work in for well-being and participation,” he says. “We have done a project in Barcelona where people with dementia visit art and cultural centres. The research has proven how it’s having a positive impact, not only on emotional and cognitive well-being and social participation, but it also has a good impact for the caregivers and the people working in the museums.”

Simó sees a natural connection between art museums and people suffering from dementia.

“They say that dementia takes longer to effect the part of the brain that allows for enjoyment of art and participation in art activities,” he says. “There are 46 million people around the world with dementia and every 20 years the numbers double, so it’s a public problem and at the same time we have wonderful resources in the community like museums that can not only promote culture but also well-being and social inclusion. “

Over the past 20 years of his career, Simó’s work as an occupational therapist has taken to over 30 countries where he has seen first-hand the connection between art and mental well-being.

“When I was working in Kosovo with child survivors of war we were using art to help the children express their trauma,” he says. “Art is a universal language, the language of the human spirit and a part of the human dimension.”

Dr. Simó also has a deeply personal connection to his work.

“My father had Alzheimer’s and at the time he could not say my name,” he says. “But he was a musician and could still sing all the songs because for him art was music. I could sing songs with him and he could remember every word but he couldn’t say the name of his son. It says something very powerful about art.”

Despite his busy schedule Simó is happy to be in Manitoba for the first time.

“We are really proud to be at the University of Manitoba,” he says. “We are really impressed by the campus and the facilities and by the openness of the researchers here. It’s amazing.”

For more information contact Marshall Wiebe, Communications Officer, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at: 204-789-3480, (cell): 204-797-6281 email: marshall [dot] wiebe [at] umanitoba [dot] ca

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