Artist Shree Jadeja demonstrates the art of paper quilling to her students in Dubai Image Credit: Clint Egbert/XPRESS

Dubai: An Indian artist is helping Alzheimer’s and autistic patients in the UAE cope up with their conditions through the art of paper quilling.

Paper quilling, also known as filigree, involves rolling and shaping narrow strips of paper, laying them on their edges, and gluing them in place.


Shree Jadeja, who has been teaching paper quilling for 15 years, is using her art to help Alzheimer’s and autistic patients here.

“A doctor friend once told me how motor skills activate brain cells, improving concentration and focus. That is when a thought struck me that I could help patients suffering from mental disability and Alzheimer’s by teaching them the art of quilling. Back home in India, I used to conduct workshops for patients in various hospitals. So I decided to something along similar lines here in Dubai,” said Jadeja.

So how does it work? “We use a special tool to quill paper. While holding the tool, two pressure points behind the thumb and the forefinger are activated, triggering brain cells. It is similar to a mudra pose in yoga. When the thumb and the forefinger are pressed together, the activated pressure points calm the mind, enabling it to focus,” said Jadeja.

Dr. Sathya Krishnan, a physio-therapist with a local hospital, backed the theory. “There are various pressure points on our finger tips which can affect brain function. In physiotherapy too we encourage patients to use their fingers and hands extensively to trigger brain cells,” said Dr. Krishnan.

Jadeja said she has seen a marked difference in her students. “From being totally restless in the initial sessions, they have now become a lot calmer and learned how to focus on a task at hand.” Jadeja uses her own creations such as a dress or a doll for demonstration.

“I have used teardrop, tight coils and honey combing patterns which are not simple to do, but my students are slowly learning how to recreate them.”

Jadeja, who normally charges Dh450 an hour per person, does not take any fee from Alzheimer’s and autistic patients.