According to the World Health Organization, around 50 mln people all over the world have dementia, and around 10 mln new cases appear each year. Therefore, doctors and scientists are seeking new methods of how to mitigate the consequences of this mental disorder and help people who suffer from it. Here comes Virtual Reality (VR) that can become a good option to solve this issue. Virtue Health, a company transforming the future of aging, has created a digital VR therapy platform LookBack to help people with dementia.
What is dementia?
Besides affecting memory and sensory perception, it also makes it difficult for a person to understand or express themselves in language. Stereotypically, people believe that dementia is a disease that relates only to elderly people. In fact, young onset dementia (before 65 years old) takes 9% of all dementia cases.
Today there is no cure for dementia. The only thing that specialists can help with is a temporary improvement of symptoms. Obviously, mental wellbeing is as important as a physical one. For this reason, specialists from Virtue Health has developed a virtual therapy platform LookBack.
LookBack is based on science-backed therapeutic approaches. Virtue Health worked closely with dementia care specialists from the University of Oxford and teams with the National Health Service (NHS). They managed to accumulate all the expertise and knowledge in this field to create a so-called “reminiscent” experience.
How does it work?
Virtual reminiscence therapy improves cognitive and communication abilities and general wellbeing of patients with dementia. The platform has a storage of VR experiences of different locations such as a town where a patient lived, a dance hall where they used to dance together with their family and friends.
Patients can get a VR session to get their memories back by simply using a smartphone. Such an immersive VR technology experience helps people with dementia and stimulates memory. Patients can personalize the app by saving their favorite places or creating user-centric custom tours to new directions.
Obviously, with good emotions, such a memory therapy can bring back bad emotions as well. All of us have memories connected with some places or actions which we would never like to live again. Thus, for example, footages from World War II aren’t allowed for being used during these sessions. Each of the tested patients is diagnosed in advance to identify the topics or locations that can cause negative emotions.