Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Are the effects of a non-drug multimodal activation therapy of dementia sustainable? Follow-up study 10 months after completion of a randomised controlled trial

Katharina Luttenberger1*, Benjamin Hofner2 and Elmar Graessel1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Schwabachanlage 6, Erlangen 91054, Germany

2 Department of Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Waldstraße 6, Erlangen 91054, Germany

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BMC Neurology 2012, 12:151  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-151

Published: 5 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Little is known about the long-term success of non-drug therapies for treating dementia, especially whether the effects are sustained after therapy ends. Here, we examined the effects of a one-year multimodal therapy 10 months after patients completed the therapy.

Methods

This randomised, controlled, single-blind, longitudinal trial involved 61 patients (catamnesis: n = 52) with primary degenerative dementia in five nursing homes in Bavaria, Germany. The highly standardised intervention, MAKS, consisted of motor stimulation, practice of activities of daily living (ADLs), and cognitive stimulation. Each group of 10 patients was treated for 2 h, 6 days a week for 12 months. Control patients received standard nursing home care. At baseline, at the end of therapy (month 12), and 10 months thereafter (month 22), cognitive functioning was assessed using the cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale, and the ability to perform ADLs was assessed using the Erlangen Test of Activities of Daily Living.

Results

During the therapy phase, the MAKS patients maintained their cognitive function and ability to carry out ADLs. After the end of therapy, both the control and the MAKS groups deteriorated in both their cognitive function (control, p = 0.02; MAKS, p < 0.001) and their ability to carry out ADLs (control, p < 0.001; MAKS, p = 0.001). However, in a confound-adjusted multiple regression model, the ability of the MAKS group to perform ADLs remained significantly higher than that of the control group even 10 months after the end of therapy (H0: βMAKS + βMAKS month 22 = 0; χ2 = 3.8568, p = 0.0496). Cohen’s d for the difference between the two groups in ADLs and cognitive abilities 10 months after the end of therapy was 0.40 and 0.22, respectively.

Conclusions

A multimodal non-drug therapy of dementia resulted in stabilisation of the ability to perform ADLs, even beyond the end of therapy. To prevent functional decline for as long as possible, therapy should be performed continuously until the benefit for the patient ends. Follow-up studies on larger numbers of patients are needed to definitively confirm these results.

Trial registration

http://www.isrctn.com webcite Identifier: ISRCTN87391496

Keywords:
Dementia; Non-drug-therapy; RCT; Follow-up study; Nursing home