The Effect of Therapist and Activity Characteristics on the Purposeful Responses of Probable Alzheimer’s Disease Participants.

The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of individual therapist sessions on the purposeful responses of probable Alzheimer’s disease (AD) participants (hereby designated as “dementia participants”. Three music therapists and one occupational therapist individually presented a combined total of 29 sing-along and exercise sessions to a group of seven participants, six having a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer’s disease (moderate to severe cognitive decline), and one nondementia “control” participant, at an adult day care center specializing in dementia. Informed consent procedures were given to all study participants and their families.

Sixteen sing-along sessions of 25-45 minutes duration consisted of live guitar playing and singing by individual music therapists. Thirteen exercises sessions of 20 minutes in length consisted of individual therapist (music or occupational) leading of exercises to a music tape (“Everyone Can Move” by Farnan & Johnson, 1988). Independent variables and their response definitions included: activity type (Sing-along, exercise); session content (music intervals, nonmusic intervals); therapist type (music, occupational); and therapist styles (singing, guitar playing).

Participant dependent measures included singing/humming to songs, and movement/exercise to a therapist model (purposeful responses). All sessions were videotaped. Results indicated that the six dementia participants as a group purposefully responded significantly more during exercise than during sing-along sessions, but one of the six participants had extremely low exercise participation scores. That one participant’s scores in sing-along sessions were in the range of the majority (4 of 5) of the other dementia participants’ singing scores. Further analysis to help explain the discrepancy in this participant’s purposeful responding indicated no significant difference in responding to individual music or occupational therapists during exercise activities, but a significant difference in individual responding to 3 different music therapists during the sing-along activities.

Additonal analyses of the sing-along activities revealed significant differences in the total percentage of singing and guitar playing by the individual music therapists. Implications of the results for music therapy programming with dementia clients are discussed.

Source: J Music Ther 1999;35(2):119-136

PMID: 10519832

(University of Missouri-Kanses City. )

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