BACKGROUND: Persons with dementia tend to be vulnerable to mobility challenges and hence face a greater risk of fall and subsequent fractures, morbidity, and mortality. Motion-based technologies (MBTs), also called sensor-based technologies or virtual reality, have the potential for assisting physical exercise and training as a part of a disease management and rehabilitation program, but little is known about its' use for people with dementia.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate the feasibility and efficacy of MBT physical training at home for people with dementia.
METHODS: A 3-phase pilot study: (1) baseline start-up, (2) 15 weeks of group training at a local care center twice a week, and (3) 12 weeks of group training reduced to once a week, supplemented with individual MBT training twice a week at home. A total of 26 people with dementia from a municipality in Southern Denmark were eligible and agreed to participate in this study. Three withdrew from the study, leaving 23 participants for the final analysis. Feasibility was measured by the percentage of participants who trained with MBT at home, and their completion rate of total scheduled MBT sessions. Efficacy was evaluated by physical function, measured by Sit-to-Stand (STS), Timed-Up-and-Go (TUG), 6-minute Walk Test (6MW), and 10-meter Dual-task Walking Test (10MDW); cognitive function was measured by Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Questionnaire (NPI-Q); and European Quality of Life 5 dimensions questionnaire (EQOL5) was used for measuring quality of life. Descriptive statistics were applied accordingly. Wilcoxon signed-rank and rank-sum tests were applied to explore significant differences within and between the groups.
RESULTS: As much as 12 of 23 participants (52%) used the supplemental MBT training at home. Among them, 6 (50%) completed 75% or more scheduled sessions, 3 completed 25% or less, and 3 completed between 25% and 75% of scheduled sessions. For physical and cognitive function tests, supplementing with MBT training at home showed a tendency of overall stabilization of scores among the group of participants who actively trained with MBT; especially, the 10MDW test even showed a significant improvement from 9.2 to 7.1 seconds (P=.03). We found no positive effect on EQOL5 tests.
CONCLUSIONS: More than half of the study population with dementia used MBT training at home, and among them, half had an overall high adherence to the home training activity. Physical function tended to remain stable or even improved among high-adherence MBT individuals. We conclude that MBT training at home may be feasible for some individuals with dementia. Further research is warranted.