Creating objects with 3D printers to stimulate reminiscence in memory loss: A mixed-method feasibility study

Allison Garlinghouse, Shaina Rud, Kari Johnson, Tom Plocher, Daniel Klassen, Thomas Havey, Joseph E. Gaugler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective. The objective of the current project was to determine the feasibility of using 3D printed technology to facilitate reminiscence-related activities for persons with memory loss (PWMLs). Methods. A parallel convergent mixed methods design was used. Fifteen PWMLs, 13 family members, and six staff from two residential long-term care facilities participated. Participants were observed and interviewed initially, during a 2-week reminiscence session, and again during a 1-month reminiscence session. Staff participants also completed a 1-month focus group, and staff and family members were administered a 3D printing review checklist at 1-month. Results. The integrated qualitative and quantitative data strongly suggested that PWMLs enjoyed using the 3D objects, were engaged while doing so and appeared to value the objects due to their personalized nature. The use of 3D printed objects also appeared to encourage family involvement as well as family and staff interactions with PWMLs. Barriers to use included memory impairment and behavioral issues. Conclusions. The use of 3D printed objects could provide an easy-to-use, well-received, person-centered approach that augments current reminiscence strategies for PWMLs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-378
Number of pages17
JournalInformatics for Health and Social Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by R43 AG049548 from the National Institute on Aging to Moai Technologies (T. Plocher, Principal Investigator) and K02 AG029480 from the National Institute on Aging to the University of Minnesota (J. E. Gaugler, Principal Investigator). Ms. Johnson, Mr. Plocher, Mr. Havey, and Dr. Klassen are paid employees of Moai Technologies, LLC.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis.


  • 3D printing
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • dementia
  • memory loss
  • mixed methods
  • non-pharmacological therapies
  • reminiscence


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