Genuine therapy (VR) could greatly improve the lives of people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, a small new study from the University of Kent, U.K, has been found.
Specifically, researchers found that people with dementia in virtual reality environments helped them to recall memories, reduce aggression and improve their interactions with carers.
“It is clear that VR has positive benefits for patients with dementia, their families and carers. It provides a richer and more fulfilling quality of life than is otherwise available, with many positive outcomes, ”explains Dr. Jim Ang, PhD, one of the study's researchers.
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How virtual reality therapy can benefit people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia
In the small study only eight patients aged between 41 and 88 years of age, were living with different types of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease.
The study headset used virtual reality to visit one of five virtual environments – cathedral, countryside, forest, sandy beach. and a rocky shore.
During 16 sessions, patients were monitored and feedback was collected from patients and their carers.
The patients chose the environment they would visit each time. Some examined a number of different locales within one session. Others returned to the same place over and over again.
Among the main findings were: The new stimulus provided by virtual reality tours helped dementia patients to benefit from old memories.
According to the researchers, reminders of burial memories gave participants a positive impetus and helped carers learn more about their lives already. This, the carers said, improved social interactions between them and their patients.
One study participant referred to dementia for the VR event as “brilliant,” and enjoyed reconciliation about the experience. It was also inspired to draw a seascapes in an art class a few weeks later. The researchers suggest that this could lead to a correlation between VR and a positive attitude and motivation to participate in the art class.
Virtual reality therapy requires more research
Because the study was small, Dr. says. Ang need more studies to validate the results, but the early results are promised for people with dementia.
As virtual reality videos become easier to produce, the virtual environments could be adapted to a single Alzheimer's patient, with virtual visits to places, such as their home or their favorite place, at the researchers added.