People With Dementia Can Have Triggers Of Memory By Using Virtual Reality

The outcome of the new research tells us that virtual reality can help with the life of those suffering from dementia. The authors ended by saying that virtual reality supported the individuals recollect memories and provided a betterment in the patient’s bonding with caregivers.

Dementia is an overall term which is used for various diseases with the inclusion of Huntington’s and Alzheimer disease. This disease can lead to memory loss, so critical that it affects an individual’s capability to function in daily work.

As a person ages, there is a higher risk of getting prone to dementia especially Alzheimer’s, according to their culture. In the view of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the African American’s have the highest risk to be diagnosed with Alzheimer among superiors, accompanied next by Hispanic and then non-Hispanic white people.

The CDC mentions that the highest rise in Alzheimer’s disease in the following decades will happen mostly in Hispanic and African American people and this rise is due to individuals alive for longer periods, as the ratio of those dying because of chronic diseases are reducing.

Virtual environments brought back memories

In the current research, the investors – most from University of Kent in UK – employed 8 individuals suffering from dementia and were patients locked in a psychiatric hospital. These individuals were of ages ranging between 41 and 88 years.The research team issued the results in the Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Utilizing the Virtual Reality (VR), the members evaluated five different surroundings over 16 sessions. The virtual surroundings demonstrated:

  • a cathedral
  • a forest
  • a sandy beach
  • a rocky beach
  • the countryside

The analyst observed the sessions, and they gathered reviews from the individuals who participates and their caregivers.

The analyst declare that their main point was that experience in the virtual environment guided the patients to remember previous memories.

One patient, recalled a trip he took previously when he saw a bridge in the virtual environment which reminded him of that holiday.

The analyst thought that because it is hard to establish new stimuli which may bring back these kinds of memories into the patients safe environment – VR can be a useful aid to help revive memories. The patients described that the VR sessions were a beneficial incident as it enhanced their overall mood and participation levels. The caregivers also mentioned that the VR episodes strengthened and boosted their connection with the participants, as an understanding from these sessions assisted the caregivers to acknowledge the participant’s life before they were admitted in the hospital.

Additional research is needed

The main restriction of this research was that it included only eight individuals and it was just a small sample. The observers describe that this is due to the long procedures involved in evaluating dementia patient’s abilities to consent. Another restriction was that the observers were limited to only one hospital in the UK, which reduces the extent to which the results of the study can be generalized to other societies.

Nevertheless, this study is the first to bring in the concept of VR as a “private space” accessible to patients in long-term care. The researchers mention that areas of deeper research can contain inspecting how practical VR is among patients with difficult attitudes and inquiring VR as a brain stimulation for those suffering from dementia and find task-based evaluation difficult.

This study, however used 5 predecided virtual environments, the authors say it can be achievable to tailor environments to particular patients. For example, VR developers could remake a patient’s home or some surrounding where they feel attached using 360-degree VR video.

“VR can clearly have positive benefits for patients with dementia, their families and caregivers,” states co-author and senior lecturer Chee Siang Ang, Ph.D. “It provides a richer and more satisfying quality of life than is otherwise available, with many positive outcomes,” he further adds.