Objective: To investigate whether behavioural, motor and physiological responses of individuals with Huntington's disease (HD) to a controlled multisensory environment (MSE) are effective as a therapeutic (sustained effects) or leisure (immediate effects) activity.
Design: Pilot study--a randomized, controlled, two-group design.
Setting: Specialist residential unit for people with mid-late stage HD.
Subjects: Twelve patients with HD (one subject from each group dropped out during the study after week 8 due to medical complications).
Interventions: Patients attended eight, 30-minute sessions over a four-week period, of multisensory stimulation (MSE, treatment group) or relaxation activities (control group).
Main outcome measures: Between-group comparisons for changes between assessment sessions for two behavioural assessments: Rehabilitation Evaluation--Hall and Baker (REHAB), Behaviour and Mood Disturbance Scale (BMD); a motor assessment: the dyskinesia section of the St Hans Rating Scale (SHRS); physiological measures: blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. Secondary measures during intervention sessions included behavioural assessment using the Interact.
Results: There were no significant differences found between the groups for any main outcome measures made between sessions. The MSE group showed some positive effects within-sessions, with the Interact showing significant between-group differences in immediate effects on mood (p = 0.028). There was also a significantly different change over time for within-session changes in stimulation levels (p = 0.0002) and mood (p = 0.0001) between the groups. No physiological effects were observed in relation to sessions in either group. Two MSE subjects underwent changes in medication during the study period.
Conclusions: There was no therapeutic effect of MSEs over the four-week study period. MSEs appear to be more effective thanconventional relaxation techniques as a leisure activity.