Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Review Article

Use of multisensory stimulation interventions in the treatment of major neurocognitive disorders


Neurochemical Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada


Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Neurochemical Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2019; 29: 916-921
DOI: 10.1080/24750573.2019.1699738
Read: 1231 Downloads: 605 Published: 05 February 2021

OBJECTIVE: Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are a heterogeneous constellation of non-cognitive symptoms and behaviours that can cause significant patient distress and present complex management challenges. Behavioural and pharmacological treatments are used to decrease the symptoms, preserve function and increase quality of life. In the treatment of individuals with a major neurocognitive disorder, non-pharmacological interventions are often preferred as first-line treatment over pharmacological interventions, which often have modest efficacy, notable side effects and significant risks. Multisensory stimulation (MSS) interventions have become increasingly popular in the treatment of BPSD, particularly with disease progression. The objective of this review paper is to provide a brief overview of the types of MSS interventions currently used in the treatment of major neurocognitive disorders.

METHODS: Searches for papers published in this area were conducted using PubMed and the Web of Science Core Collection. The searches were done for the period covering the past 20 years, and key phrases used were “multisensory stimulation for treatment of BPSD,” “multisensory stimulation for treatment of major cognitive disorders,” “multisensory stimulation for treatment of dementia” and “multisensory stimulation for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.”

RESULTS: Multisensory environments, multisensory tools and multisensory group therapies are discussed. There is growing support for the use of MSS interventions to improve mood, behaviour and quality of life in seniors with dementia and BPSD. However, currently the utilization of these interventions is highly variable and strong evidence for their use is limited.

CONCLUSION: MSS interventions in the form of multisensory environments, tools and group therapies present tremendous potential as first-line treatments or as adjuncts to pharmacological interventions in the treatment of major neurocognitive disorders. However, the body of quality evidence that currently exists is limited. A lack of evidence does not necessarily mean a lack of efficacy, and there is a pressing need for studies with improved power and study design to determine the effectiveness of specific MSS interventions and to ascertain for whom they may be most beneficial.

EISSN 2475-0581