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Snoezelen multisensory stimulation rooms: what they are and what they are for

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The senses are the means through which we acquire information about the world and, also, we relate to it. Sight, hearing, touch... all the senses serve to know our immediate environment and, also, how to respond to it.

It usually happens that in many mental disorders and brain diseases there are certain alterations in the way of perceiving the environment, usually due to a cognitive impairment, something that if not managed properly can lead to a significant reduction in the well-being of the patient.

With the intention of avoiding it there are Snoezelen multisensory stimulation rooms, a type of perfect tool both to apply therapy in people with different perception and cognition problems as well as for recreational purposes. Let's find out what they are and how useful they are.

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What are Snoezelen multisensory stimulation rooms?

The senses of the human body allow us to perceive what is around us, in addition to perceiving ourselves and in relation to space.

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The organs in which these senses are based constitute the vehicle through which we can receive information from the environment and emit a response according to what is perceived. Sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste are the well-known classical senses, although there are more: balance, perception of heat, proprioception, nociception ...

The senses activate our brain and allow us to train it, teach you new concepts and skills, new sensations. They are a very important factor for the development, interaction and learning in our species, which is why in case of having any altered sense, whether congenital or acquired, the affected person has great disadvantages when it comes to processing and understanding the world that wraps up.

People with a mental disorder, dementias, cognitive impairment or developmental disorders may suffer alterations in one or more of their sensory systems, which translates into have certain difficulties in receiving sensations, which causes alterations in their development and in their ability to acquire new ones knowledge. Added to this, they can also present alterations in their behavior and in their mood.

One of the most widespread ideas in clinical psychology, especially applied in the treatment of people with cognitive impairment, is that the sensations can help us reconnect with the reality that surrounds them, despite presenting alterations in their perception. It is because of that many therapies use sensory stimulation as a very useful tool, being what is carried out in the Snoezelen multisensory stimulation rooms.

The Snoezelen rooms are used with the main objective of promoting the feeling of well-being of the participants through sensory stimulation, providing stimuli that enter through different senses. The idea is to create a rich and varied experience, in which all kinds of stimulation take part in the form of sounds, lights, colors, smells, textures, or even flavors. Thanks to the multisensory stimulation carried out in these rooms, people who present some cognitive alteration to interact with the environment and to be aware of their own body and their being.

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Origins of the Snoezelen rooms

The therapeutic concept behind Snoezelen multisensory stimulation rooms has its origins in the 70s from the hand of the Dutch therapists Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul. This strange word comes from the Dutch, being the fusion of “snuffelen”, which means “to smell” and "Doezelen" which means "to doze", and combined they give rise to something like "to be impregnated with sensations relaxing ”.

The multisensory stimulation proposal of Hulsegge and Verheul began to have relevance in the decade of the 90s, being approached in a scientific way and acquiring a greater therapeutic interest and playful.

It arrived in Spain around the year 2000, and in the last two decades it has not stopped acquiring greater relevance Thanks to its great utility in the treatment and improvement of the mental health of patients with diseases and disorders where cognitive abilities are compromised.

Snoezelen stimulation rooms
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What can we find in one of these rooms?

The multisensory stimulation activity is carried out in specifically enabled physical spacesThese being the Snoezelen multisensory stimulation rooms themselves.

These rooms are prepared to provide sensory experiences through sounds, tactile interactions, smells, sensations of light, tastes and other stimuli that are normally They are distributed in different areas of the room according to the senses that you want to stimulate, although you can also find elements used to stimulate several senses at the same time. weather.

Among the elements that we can find in a Snoezelen room have:

  • Lamps and light projectors of different colors, shapes and intensities
  • Luminous fibers
  • Pushbuttons, switches and touch panels that activate lights and sounds
  • Mirrors and all kinds of reflective surfaces
  • Objects with shapes, colors, materials, textures, hardness of all kinds
  • Bubble columns
  • Objects that make sounds when touched
  • Aroma diffusers, scented objects, oils ...
  • Liquid, solid, salty, sweet foods ...
  • Teethers and chewers
  • Elements for relaxation such as mats, puffs, armchairs, rocking chairs ...
  • Music players
  • Musical instruments
  • Vibrating water bed to the beat of the music

The wide variety of objects and effects they produce allow those who enter this type of room to receive all kinds of stimuli, a multisensory stimulation useful both in therapy and for the purely playful. In the therapeutic context, it may happen that the therapists lead the session and direct the application of the stimuli. helping the patient to become aware of what is happening around them and inviting them to interact with objectsIn others, patients are left completely free to browse and use the objects in the room at their free will.

But, as can be deduced from all the furniture that is usually in these rooms, these spaces are more expensive to fit. For this reason, you can resort to the alternative of using multisensory stimulation carts, which they have objects that can be used in a similar way to those found in the rooms Snoezelen. Although these carts do not generate a degree of immersion or stimulation as great as the rooms specifically enabled for This has the advantage that they are portable, being able to create a multisensory stimulation environment anywhere.

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What are the benefits of multisensory stimulation?

Since Snoezelen multisensory stimulation rooms have been in the spotlight of scientific research, different benefits have been attributed to them. Among the main ones we can highlight the following:

  • Relaxation
  • Greater independence
  • Developing self-confidence
  • Self-control
  • Further exploration of the environment
  • Higher performance of creative capabilities
  • Improved communication skills
  • Contributes to well-being
  • It's a fun activity
  • Promotes the ability to choose
  • Increases attention and concentration time
  • Reduces changes in mood
  • Avoid behavioral disturbances

While it has been assumed that rooms of this type bring all these benefits, it is worth mentioning that they are still the subject of scientific research to determine their true effectiveness. However, the scientific literature indicates that Snoezelen multisensory stimulation rooms turn out to be useful in people with mental disorders, chronic pain, people with intellectual disabilities and older people with cognitive impairment, in addition to helping to regulate the mood and behavior both in children and adults without any psychopathology, enjoying them as leisure.

It has been especially studied in patients with Alzheimer disease and in cases of cognitive impairment, conditions in which people have severe difficulties in controlling their psychomotor skills. In Alzheimer's, cognitive, behavioral and emotional capacities are affected, aspects that Snoezelen multisensory rooms allow to address and stimulate.

When Alzheimer's is in a very advanced stage, it is difficult for a person to understand the world around them. For this reason, stimuli as basic as a scent or a song that evoke memories, or a moving light that awakens your Interest and curiosity can be a great advance, especially because they motivate the user to interact with the environment and feel better. Other benefits that Snoezelen spaces provide in Alzheimer's patients are:

  • Improves behavior and mood.
  • Reduce apathy
  • Attenuates behavioral disturbances
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improves balance in people with dementia

Example of intervention with Snoezelen

Although each psycho-pedagogical office, nursing home or toy library may have its own intervention protocol using Snoezelen multisensory stimulation, we can give as a fairly general example the following guideline, in this case specifically with older people and in sessions of between 30 and 45 minutes. Sessions can be structured as follows:

  • At the beginning of the session, give the participant information in advance: where he is, with whom and what he is going to do.
  • Breathe being aware of it. The goal is to relax the person.
  • Show affection
  • Naming the parts of the body with which you are working.
  • Take care of the participant's posture, ensuring that he feels comfortable and relaxed.

During the sessions it is essential to take into account the following aspects:

  • Give the participant the opportunity to choose, according to her preferences.
  • Right to have your time.
  • Repeat an action as many times as you want
  • Someone to oversee the session, taking an active role or not.
  • Allow time for the participant to express himself and give her response.
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