The World’s First Virtual Reality Memory Training Tool for Alzheimer’s Launches

August 27, 2018
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The Swann VR is the first virtual reality memory training tool designed to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. This program works with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and focuses on cognitive training. Cognitive training has been a popular treatment for people with mild to moderate cases of dementia, however, there are currently no conclusive clinical trial results that can determine the effects of this type of treatment in patients with advanced dementia.

How Swann VR Works

The CaptoGlove blew virtual reality fans and the medical world away using VR haptic technology to treat patients recovering from strokes and serious injuries that affected mobility.

Taegh Sokhey, a medical student, is the creator behind the popular Swann VR program.

With the introduction of Swann VR, this training app can give those newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia hope that they can retain cognitive function for a longer period of time with regular use.

So, how does Swann VR work?

As we mentioned, this app uses the best VR headset, the Oculus Rift, to simulate the dementia patient’s real-world environment. The patient uses a map to navigate through the VR environment and locate common items in their home such as a toothbrush or remote. When the patient finds each of these items they are awarded points. Aside from motivating the user, the points are implemented as a way to carefully track the user’s success and progress.

This new software program allows the therapist to choose from five VR environments. Obviously, the therapist will choose an environment that’s as similar to the patient’s home as possible.

Cognitive Training in Alzheimer’s Patients

This type of therapy is commonly used by psychiatrists, occupational therapists, neuropsychologists, and psychologists. This treatment is designed to help improve brain function in people diagnosed with dementia, brain injuries, or anyone recovering from a serious neurological event. Cognitive training using virtual reality is designed to help achieve certain therapeutic goals in addition to keeping the brain focused and the memory sharp.

The goal of using virtual reality training tools including haptic gloves such as the CaptoGlove, VR headsets and virtual reality apps is to improve the patient’s general learning ability, judgment, reasoning, perception, planning, and memory. In some patients, these programs can also help patients suffering from severe changes in mobility to enjoy improved self-esteem and confidence in their ability to perform and complete prescribed OT or PT exercises that are essential to their progress.

The benefit of VR and cognitive therapy programs is that the patient can learn how to apply new approaches and strategies through trial and error, in order to enhance their cognitive performance.

As an example, a psychologist may help their patient to develop the habit of taking their medication on time by having the patient go through the process of doing so in the Swann VR app. If the patient constantly loses personal items in the home and has a hard time getting going in the morning, the therapist can have the patient practice their morning routine in the VR environment, beginning with brushing their teeth and washing up, eating breakfast, and picking out clothing for the day. This type of repetitive training can help patients to relearn their morning routines in a safe, controlled environment.

Virtual Reality May be the Answer for Future Dementia Treatment

Virtual Reality May be the Answer for Future Dementia TreatmentThere are several reasons behind why virtual reality software, headsets, and haptic gloves are ideal for cognitive training. VR can make it easier for the therapist to track progress and customize training programs. Not only does it provide a variety of exercise options both auditory and visual, but it can also be easily altered based on the patient’s progress. Best of all, many patients tend to consider VR cognitive training fun and easy.

While there are obvious signs of improvement in patients with mild or moderate cases of dementia, medication is still needed in order to aid in slowing down the progression of this disease.

Unfortunately, these programs and treatment techniques are not very effective in patients with advanced cases of dementia. However, the fact that studies have shown that these treatment methods can improve a patient’s cognitive function and can even slow down the progression of dementia is a major step in Alzheimer’s treatment.

Cognitive Therapy Training at Home

There have been studies conducted regarding the benefits of virtual reality rehabilitation and memory training that shows positive results in just a fraction of the time it takes using traditional cognitive training methods. Additionally, patients don’t tend to become as easily frustrated or embarrassed by their mistakes or lack of progress, so the training essentially encourages them to keep trying and really apply themselves during each session.

Best of all, the patient can work on their cognitive therapy training both at their doctor’s office and in the comfort of their own home. This can be a major help to patients who have trouble making it to and from doctor’s appointments.

Virtual Reality Applications for Stroke Patients

As we briefly touch on earlier, not only is virtual reality having a major impact on elderly patients suffering from dementia, but it’s now found a place in physical therapy rehab facilities. Haptic devices such as the CaptoGlove are helping patients to relearn basic motor functions, improve mobility using innovative software programs that boost the patient’s self-confidence while giving physical therapists a better idea of where a patient is in terms of progress.

To learn more, click here to read The CaptoGlove is the New Face of Stroke Rehabilitation.

Conclusion

The best VR wearables have found their way into the medical field, giving patients, doctors, physical therapists, and psychologists new ways to reach their patients. These simulated environments can provide many opportunities for the patients to improve brain function, memory and mobility.

With the introduction of the world’s first virtual reality memory training program, patients newly diagnosed with dementia now have hope that these exercises and simulated environments can allow them to maintain their independence for a longer period of time, which is a major development in the Alzheimer’s community.

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