Virtual reality can help dementia patients

Virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) technology can vastly enhance the quality of life for people with dementia by helping them to recall past, reduce aggression and improve interactions with caregivers, as per a study.

The device helped patients recall old memories by providing new stimuli difficult to achieve, due to ill health, or inaccessible within a secure environment, said the team from the University of Kent in the UK.

“VR can clearly have positive benefits for patients with dementia, their families and caregivers. It provides a richer and more satisfying quality of life than is otherwise available, with many positive outcomes,” said Jim Ang, Professor at the University of Kent.

The study was conducted on eight patients aged between 41 and 88 who suffering from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

Each patient used a VR headset to ‘visit’ one of five virtual environments of a cathedral, a forest, a sandy beach, a rocky beach and a countryside scene.

The sessions were monitored with feedback gathered from patients and their caregivers.

The patients also demonstrated their own choices during the experiment, with some keen to explore different VEs, while others explored the same environment repeatedly.

“With further research it will be possible to evaluate the elements of virtual environments that benefit patients and use VR even more effectively,” Jim Ang added.

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