The results of a study commissioned to the Besta Neurological Institute by GomitoloRosa, an association that promotes wool therapy for cancer patients in 30 Italian hospitals. Einstein did it too
Knitting that works for you: an Italian study demonstrates for the first time that Knitting and crocheting is good for the brain, even for those facing cancer.
From today the relaxing power of irons is therefore no longer just the prerogative of popular wisdom, but can also boast a scientific basis, which had already been suggested by previous research. The knitting activity stop intrusive thoughtsincreases the level of attention and, in the case of cancer patients, makes them more concentrated during the conversation with the oncologists, when it is necessary to make decisive choices that affect their health, underlines Alberto Costa, president of GomitoloRosa, an association that has been promoting wool therapy in almost 30 Italian hospitals for over a decadefrom Messina to Milan.
The results quantify the benefits of knitting (pre-published in the medRxiv journal) of a research commissioned by Gomitolorosa to the Ircss Foundation Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta of Milan which demonstrates for the first time in a scientific way the benefits of knitting in increasingattention and concentration. Using an innovative diagnostic tool, Magneto-Encephalo-Graphy (MEG), neurologists and neurophysiologists from Besta recorded the magnetic and electrical activity of the cerebral cortex of 40 volunteer knitting experts aged between 27 and 63-year-old, before and after a 20-minute knitting session with the aim of scientifically determining and measuring any benefits to mental health, sustained attention and well-being resulting from this activity. The experiment was also repeated on a control group, i.e. on subjects who do not habitually practice knitting. The innovative aspect of the research is the fact that it demonstrates how knitting positively influences the attention of people who practice this activity, improvingalertness and orientation, which influence the “state of activation” of the subject in preparation for the stimulus and the ability to direct attention towards the relevant stimuli – explains Davide Rossi Sebastiano, head of Neurophysiopathology and project leader -. In people who knit with a certain assiduity, even a short session increases attention immediately and the effect lasts even when the irons are put down, for a further 15-20 minutes.
Knitting like meditating
Although knitting is considered a purely female activity, legend has it even Albert Einstein engaged in knitting between one project and another to calm his mind and clarify his ideas. Previous research indicates that knitting is perceived as a means of liberation from daily stress and as an effective coping strategy anxiety (with benefits also for the heart), pain and depression, helps improve mood, concentration, problem solving and memory. But does knitting affect your level of attention in a similar way to meditation? The project is based on this hypothesis and the results indicate how knitting has the ability to increase people’s concentration as happens after meditating – says Pietro Tiraboschi, head of the Simple Clinical Dementia Structure at Besta -. While meditation usually involves top-down attentional and regulatory control, crochet requires coordinated finger movements and rapid attention to detail, suggesting it engages attentional networks differently.
Strengthen the mind
In short, dedicating oneself to knitting and crocheting promotes patients’ awareness, helps them control their emotions and increase concentration: it could therefore be a particularly useful occupation even while waiting for medical visits. Knit distracts from worrieshelps to perceive pain less, facilitates socialization processes and improves self-esteem because it implies an objective and its achievement – concludes Costa -. The increase in attention is very important for those who are undergoing a treatment process, as it allows them to better understand their illness and the measures to take to overcome it and achieve recovery. a phenomenon well known in psycho-oncology and called “patient empowerment”, that is, literally, “mental empowerment” of the patient, who becomes much more capable of understanding his own illness and the effects on his own body, actively seeks information and is able to formulate relevant questions to doctors and healthcare professionals. Effective communication between doctor and patient brings significant benefits. In fact, it increases patient satisfaction and has a positive impact on the quality of life and the healing process.
November 15, 2023 (modified November 15, 2023 | 12:16)
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