The benefits of multi-sensory environments for recreational therapy patients are many, especially since these environments can be tailored to the needs of a particular patient or group of patients. Currently, multi-sensory environments are being used to treat patients with learning disabilities, dementia, and even chronic pain. Here are some of the benefits of these environments in therapy situations:
Increase in mood
Several studies have shown that multi-sensory environments can have mood benefits for patients with moderate to severe dementia as well as learning disabilities. Because these individuals are often unable to connect with the world around them, they often suffer from depression or mood problems. A multi-sensory environment can increase a sense of connection, thus decreasing depression and sadness.
Better social interaction
For patients with learning disabilities, interacting with a multi-sensory environment often turns into interacting better socially. Exploring a multi-sensory environment often leads these patients to explore the world around them more fully and to connect more readily with individuals around them.
This is a benefit that works especially well for those with learning disabilities. It seems that because those with learning disabilities are able to concentrate on their multi-sensory environment, they are more able to concentrate in the real world, as well. Plus, they gain greater self-awareness through a multi-sensory environment, which means they are better able to focus on school and social interactions.
In both dementia patients and learning disabled patients, multi-sensory environments in recreational therapy have been shown to increase appropriate communication. Often, these patients become more self-aware as well as more willing to look into the world outside of themselves, which means they are better able to communicate with others after multi-sensory environment recreational therapy.
Recently, multi-sensory environments have been used to help manage chronic pain. Recreational therapy in these environments can help reduce levels of pain and depression and increase coping skills. A multi-sensory environment can be exactly what the chronic pain sufferer needs in order to cope with pain without the use of heavy drugs.
Creating a Multi-Sensory Environment
A multi-sensory environment can be created in almost any therapy facility or home. According to the American Association of Multi Sensory Environments, this type of environment is essentially a room that blocks out outside noise and light so that the therapist or patient can control things like temperature, lighting, noise, and other sensory input. Many times, multi-sensory environments include controls that allow patients to manipulate the environment on their own, but some environments are set up so that patients can simply enjoy them.
If you want to create a multi-sensory environment in your therapy workplace – or even in your home, as some parents with special needs children might do – start by blocking out outside noise and light as best you can. Installing extra insulation around the room is one option, and blacking out and covering windows is quite easy.
Then, include things in your room such as different textures on furniture, lighting balls that throw lights around the room, and projectors that put up soothing, interesting images on the walls. You can also include things like a ball pit or bubble tube, aromatherapy candles, and even bits of food for the patient to taste and smell.
Financing a Multi-Sensory Environment
If you’re interested in creating a multi-sensory environment but don’t have the funding for it at the moment, Daniela Baker, blogger from CreditDonkey, says, “Seek out alternative forms of funding via a fund-raiser. If you don’t have the time to manage the fund-raiser yourself seek out local churches, Rotary Club, college fraternities, and other groups that are looking to help others. Funds may also be found from grants. Start your grant search at ttp://www.grants.gov.”
Much recent research has shown that a multi-sensory environment can be helpful for patients with autism, brain injury, dementia, developmental problems, mental illness, and even PTSD. Clearly, any organization that works in recreational therapy should have a multi-sensory environment to aid other forms of therapy, as well.