Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness affecting millions of Americans. It is characterized by positive and negative symptoms; cognitive impairments; and sensory, motor, and process skill deficits; as well as compromised motor learning, functional difficulties, and diminished quality of life. Neuroscientists attribute the above deficits to abnormal brain development, exaggerated synaptic pruning, and neurodegenerative processes, causing disrupted connectivity and diminished plasticity in the brain, neurotransmitter dysfunction, and impaired sensory processing.
Presently, there is no cure for schizophrenia. Numerous medications and rehabilitation modalities exist; however, many of the affected individuals continue to struggle daily. Recovery of these individuals implies symptom management and environmental supports to foster integration into the society and improved quality of life. Occupational therapists (OTs) utilize occupation-based assessments and interventions to evaluate and treat functional impairments in clients with various conditions, including schizophrenia, and provide their clients with environmental adaptations/modifications to enhance function. An improved understanding of the skill deficits and their relationship with schizophrenia symptomatology is necessary to refine treatment and rehabilitation for this client population, and so far, several OT scholars have attempted to research this topic.
This study employed the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile (AASP), Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS), and Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) to examine the sensory, motor, and process skills of stabilized adult patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders in relation to their symptoms. It was hypothesized that the participants would present with deficient sensory, motor, and process skills, and significant relationships would be revealed between these skill deficits and the severity of psychiatric symptoms.
Analysis of the data confirmed sensory, motor, and process skill deficits in the participants. It discovered correlations between low registration and sensory sensitivity, and anxiety/depression. Relationships were also found between sensory avoidance and motor and process skill deficits. Additional findings included correlations between sensory sensitivity and sensory avoidance, between motor and process skill deficits, and between different categories of psychiatric symptoms.
Study findings support the idea that schizophrenia rehabilitation necessitates addressing the skill deficits with which it comes. The concept of impaired sensory processing underlying schizophrenia symptomatology and skill deficits needs further investigation.
Halperin L. (2018). Sensory, motor and process skills as compared to symptom severity in adult patients with schizophrenia. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Columbia University, New York, New York.
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