Background: The increasing prevalence of dementia in the next decades is accompanied by various societal and economic problems. Previous studies have suggested that physical activity positively affects motor and cognitive skills in individuals with dementia (IWD). However, there is insufficient evidence probably related to several methodological limitations. Moreover, to date adequate physical activity interventions specifically developed for IWD are lacking.
Objective: This study aims to investigate the effectiveness of a multimodal exercise program (MEP) on motor and cognitive skills in IWD in a high-quality multicenter trial.
Methods: A multicenter randomized controlled trial with baseline and postassessments will be performed. It is planned to enroll 405 participants with dementia of mild to moderate stage, aged 65 years and older. The intervention group will participate in a 16-week ritualized MEP especially developed for IWD. The effectiveness of the MEP on the primary outcomes balance, mobility, and gait will be examined using a comprehensive test battery. Secondary outcomes are strength and function of lower limbs, activities of daily living, and cognition (overall cognition, language, processing speed, learning and memory, and visual spatial cognition).
Results: Enrollment for the study started in May 2015. It is planned to complete postassessments by the beginning of 2017. Results are expected to be available in the first half of 2017.
Conclusions: This study will contribute to enhancing evidence for the effects of physical activity on motor and cognitive skills in IWD. Compared to previous studies, this study is characterized by a dementia-specific intervention based on scientific knowledge, a combination of motor and cognitive tasks in the intervention, and high standards regarding methodology. Findings are highly relevant to influence the multiple motor and cognitive impairments of IWD who are often participating in limited physical activity.