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The Multi-Modal Evaluation of Sensory Sensitivity (MESSY): assessing a commonly missed symptom of acquired brain injury

  • Thielen, Hella; 118929;
  • Wajer, Irene MC Huenges;
  • Tuts, Nora; 143301;
  • Welkenhuyzen, Lies; 134383;
  • Lafosse, Cristophe;
  • Gillebert, Celine RR; 49589;
Publication Date
Feb 17, 2024
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Objective: Sensory hypersensitivity is common after acquired brain injury. Since appropriate diagnostic tools are lacking, these complaints are overlooked by clinicians and available literature is limited to light and noise hypersensitivity after concussion. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of sensory hypersensitivity in other modalities and after other types of brain injury. Method: We developed the Multi-Modal Evaluation of Sensory Sensitivity (MESSY), a patient-friendly questionnaire that assesses sensory sensitivity across multiple sensory modalities. 818 neurotypical adults (mean age = 49; 244 male) and 341 chronic acquired brain injury patients (including stroke, traumatic brain injury, and brain tumour patients) (mean age = 56; 126 male) completed the MESSY online. Results: The MESSY had a high validity and reliability in neurotypical adults. Post-injury sensory hypersensitivity (examined using open-ended questions) was reported by 76% of the stroke patients, 89% of the traumatic brain injury patients, and 82% of the brain tumour patients. These complaints occurred across all modalities with multisensory, visual, and auditory hypersensitivity being the most prevalent. Patients with post-injury sensory hypersensitivity reported a higher sensory sensitivity severity on the multiple-choice items of the MESSY as compared to neurotypical adults and acquired brain injury patients without post-injury sensory hypersensitivity (across all sensory modalities) (effect sizes (partial eta squared) ranged from .06 to .22). Conclusions: These results show that sensory hypersensitivity is prevalent after different types of acquired brain injury as well as across several sensory modalities. The MESSY can improve recognition of these symptoms and facilitate further research. / status: published

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