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Research Article  |   January 1991
Spatial Disorientation in Persons With Early Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type
Author Affiliations
  • Lili Liu, BSc(OT), MSc, is a Lecturer, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Louise Gauthier, BSc(OT), MSc, is Associate Professor and Director of the Occupational Therapy Program, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University, 3654 Drummond Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 1Y5
  • Serge Gauthier, MD, FRCP(C), is Professor and Director of the McGill Center for Studies in Aging, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Article Information
Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia / Neurologic Conditions / Research
Research Article   |   January 1991
Spatial Disorientation in Persons With Early Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January 1991, Vol. 45, 67-74. doi:10.5014/ajot.45.1.67
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January 1991, Vol. 45, 67-74. doi:10.5014/ajot.45.1.67
Abstract

Although spatial disorientation is frequently observed in persons with Alzheimer disease, it is not well understood. A descriptive study was conducted to examine spatial skills associated with spatial orientation. Spatial tasks were selected and grouped into three types of spatial skills: perceptual, cognitive, and functional. These spatial tasks were administered to a group of 15 persons with senile dementia of the Alzheimer type (SDAT) (early Alzheimer disease) and a group of 15 control subjects. The results indicated that the subjects with SDAT were impaired on half of the perceptual spatial tasks and all of the cognitive spatial tasks. On the functional spatial tasks, however, the subjects with SDAT showed impaired skills in the new environment but intact skills in familiar environments.

Spatial disorientation poses a danger and limits a person’s ability to independently perform daily activities that require navigation outside of the home. Occupational therapy should therefore include the assessment of spatial orientation skills in persons who are in the early stages of dementia.