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Dementia is a neurological disease, causing behavioral and cognitive symptoms, that progressively impairs an individual’s ability to engage in meaningful activities. Progressive deterioration associated with dementia impacts occupational performance and independence and quality of life. Sensory based interventions, such as drumming groups, have been hypothesized to be a non-pharmacological intervention for individuals with dementia. The purpose of this study was to analyze the effects of a sensory based intervention program, in this case participation in a drumming group, on functional engagement during self-feeding for individuals with dementia. Researchers gathered data over the course of two days using the Functional Behavior Profile, Self-Feeding Questionnaire, Visual Analog Scale, and the Agitated Behavior Scale as outcome measures. The first day was a baseline day, during which participants did not participate in the drumming group. Researchers completed observational questionnaires measuring the participant’s agitation and mood prior to lunch, and during lunch. On the second day, the participants engaged in the drumming group. Agitation, mood, and function was observed before and after the drumming group, and during lunch. Mood was elevated and increased engagement was observed during the drumming group. The effect of the drumming group did not carry over into self-feeding. There was a 20 minute wait period in between the drumming group and lunch time, which may have affected the results. Recommendations for future research include the evaluation of arousal and engagement during the drumming group and its effect on occupational performance.


Occupational Therapy

Faculty Advisor

Susan Morris, Ph.D., OTR/L

Publication Date



San Rafael, CA


Dementia, Sensory-based program, Performance in occupations, Drumming group, Engagement


Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Geriatrics | Mental and Social Health | Occupational Therapy

A Sensory-Based Program to Enhance Occupational Performance for Dementia