Up until recently, dementia and Alzheimer’s have been characterized by the decline in a person’s memory. Some studies now, however, are showing that a person’s ability to navigate familiar landscapes and objects might actually be the initial signs of dementia.
The PREVENT Dementia study, established by a team of researchers at the University of Edinburgh, aims to identity the earliest signs of dementia, which are believed to occur decades before any symptoms occur. Some of their earliest findings show that those who scored lower on tests that required participants to visualize their surroundings were at higher risk for developing dementia later in life. To put simply, they had difficulty with their bearings and navigation.
This is where virtual reality has come in. The images and stories displayed can simulate an experience that tests an individual’s navigational skills. This is a crucial development because if those who are predisposed to develop dementia are identified sooner, a treatment plan can be put into action to intervene and slow an individual’s decline.
The two main parts of the brain that are affected by dementia are the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. According to Alzheimer’s Society, when memory loss symptoms show up in an individual, 60% of the entorhinal cortex is already affected. If medication that is relatively ineffective at this stage is administered earlier, it may prove to be more potent and decrease the area of the entorhinal cortex that is affected.
Lifestyle changes have also been proven to cut down risks of dementia. Healthy eating, exercise, and cutting back on smoking and drinking are some of the guidelines suggested by the World Health Organization. If people find out earlier than they are susceptible, they might be more motivated to make such changes before it is too late.
Virtual reality isn’t only used for detecting someone who might develop dementia, it is also used to treat those who are already experiencing it. 3Scape’s Immersive VR experiences administer reminiscence therapy which has proven to:
Trigger patients to reminisce and reflect on life
Decrease depression and anxiety symptoms in individuals
Facilitate social connection
Ignite a new zest for life
Our innovation combines geriatric psychology, research-based storytelling, and research regarding music, colour, sight and brain into one experience. By doing so we are able to elicit strong emotional responses that contribute to the results listed above, therefore enhancing an individual’s quality of life.
If you want to learn more about how your residence can adopt our technology to become part of your treatment plan, click here for more information.