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12 / Apr / 2021

Dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people. According to the World Health Organization, the number of patients with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 50 million with nearly 10 million new cases every year. Dementia is a misunderstood condition. Many people believe it's just a by-product of aging. We tend to not think beyond memory loss when it comes to symptoms. The reality is that dementia is a condition caused by diseases, most commonly Alzheimer's, that damage different areas of the brain leading to a variety of challenging symptoms.

Early Risk Detection

Alzheimer's has already become remarkably easier to detect thanks to VR technology. The scientists, led by Lukas Kunz of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn published a study in which they used a virtual maze to help detect Alzheimer's. In the study, the scientists tested people between 18 and 30 years old and had them try to navigate a VR maze. Based on how different people moved through the maze, the scientists were able to accurately identify which subjects held genetic markers for Alzheimer's. This means that with the help of VR, scientists can diagnose high-risk patients as young as 18 years old, allowing families to plan for future Alzheimer's care.

Virtual Reality for Caregivers

Embodied Labs is dedicated to creating dementia-specific simulations as an educational tool and for building empathy. They've created a platform that allows caregivers, family members and medical professionals to experience dementia first hand. VR therapy that serves not only the person living with a neurological disorder but the care provider, helping care home staff and caregivers see through their patients' eyes, so they can provide more empathic healthcare.


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08 / Apr / 2021

Many individuals worldwide suffer from some form of drug addiction or substance use disorder (SUD). Due to the cyclical nature of withdrawal and relapses, eg. alcohol use disorder (AUD), the difficulty rooted in managing such brain diseases can dishearten those who most want to cease drug misuse and lead healthier lives. Virtual reality methods can also have a large impact on those seeking treatment and play a significant role in countering their feelings of defeatism and self-doubt. By rejecting their addiction repeatedly in a virtual scenario, individuals foster the confidence to do so in the real world and maintain that belief in their own abilities across other treatment options.

Benefits of using VR for Addiction Treatment

Scholars at the  Virtual Reality Clinical Research Lab at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work are pioneers of using VR technology for treatment purposes. The researchers have achieved success using virtual reality therapy to help smokers refuse the temptation of cigarettes.

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The benefits of virtual reality can apply no matter what stage of the process they are in.

1. Detoxification

To help during the  process of detoxifying from drug addiction , virtual reality techniques can be used to distract the individual from the discomfort of withdrawal and detox. While immersed in this alternate reality, many find it easier to cope with their symptoms and stay committed to their sobriety.

2. Fighting Cravings

VR is an active experience, with the user diving completely into a different reality. Specific sounds, smells, situations, and visual stimuli play a vital role in their desire to use drugs, and by engaging regularly with these specific triggers, addicts can practice overcoming them through repeat exposure.

3. Learning to say No.

With virtual reality, clients can practice these scenarios over and over again without having to worry about what happens if they cannot say no. Recovery is a daily commitment, but it can be easier to do if you know you have succeeded in the past. By saying successfully no to addiction in a virtual setting, addicts can feel more confident saying no once they leave treatment.

4. Personalized Therapy

As much as VR can help addicts fight off outside triggers, it can also help therapists identify the internal contributions fostering an addiction. Self-doubt, childhood trauma, a family history of addiction, and countless other factors could be building a roadblock to recovery. By exploring these scenarios customized therapies can be designed to determine the root cause of addiction.

5. Relaxation

Soothing scenes, when combined with relaxing music, can help reduce agitation, stress, paranoia, and anger and provide a quiet place for self-reflection. This technology can also provide an escape if cravings become overwhelming.


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29 / Mar / 2021

For seniors, the benefits of virtual reality go beyond just entertainment. A research from from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Age Lab found older adults who used a VR system were more likely to feel positive about their health and emotions, less likely to be depressed, and less likely to feel socially isolated compared with those viewing similar content on TV. VR applications, if properly deployed & maintained can help participants see faraway places, surround themselves with animals or nature - and, in some cases, even “stand” in familiar 360-degree settings such as a childhood street or schoolyard.

As people age, their brain activity tends to slow. In order to keep the brain active and responsive, it needs to be stimulated daily which can be achieved by introducing unique experiences using VR. The experiences range from walking through a jungle path to sitting in on a jazz concert at a speakeasy. It allows them to not only exercise their brain, but “travel” across the world and relive memories within the walls of a retirement or nursing home.

VR can be a great tool to promote socializing amongst elderly. One way to promote socialization by incorporating group virtual reality in nursing homes. Several people can put on different VR headsets and travel across the world or participate in events together. It makes it easier to socialize because participants don't have to directly see the person they're interacting with, but at the same time still bond over a shared experience - similar to talking to someone online without seeing their face.

Caregivers can also reap the benefits of using VR. It is an incredibly useful staff training tool, particularly if you're working with people who are living with dementia, because there are VR programs designed to help understand what it feels like to live with dementia. It is also beneficial to track and analyze the therapeutic outcomes for the elderly.


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17 / Mar / 2021

Post Covid patients, especially those affected seriously by it, are expected to have higher needs for physical, psychological and cognitive rehabilitation. Virtual Reality (VR) administers fast, tailor-made rehabilitation at a distance, and offers a solution for the impending surge of demand for rehabilitation after COVID-19. The immersion of VR may increase therapy adherence and may distract the patient from experienced fatigue and anxiety.

An intensive care admission is a fearsome experience, especially when a patient is supported by mechanical ventilation as is common in COVID-19. Depression occurs in approximately 30% of recovering patients, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 10–50% of patients and anxiety in 70% or Post-Intensive Care Syndrome after coronavirus infection or {PICS} patients. Psychological therapy targeting these indications can be offered through VR. VR rehabilitation as part of telemedicine solutions has several advantages compared to traditional rehabilitation. First, considering our society's continuing need for social distancing, therapy can be given at a distance. Second, VR allows therapists to treat patients simultaneously. While therapists must monitor sessions at a distance in some cases, live support is generally not required, increasing patients' autonomy and reducing the workload of therapists. What makes VR particularly different is that it provides its users with a 3D immersive environment. The immersion makes therapy more fun and reduces distraction from the external environment. Both might increase therapy adherence and engagement. Besides, VR may serve to distract patients from experienced fatigue and anxiety which would otherwise hinder their ability to move.

The COVID-19 crisis has generated a need to expand telehealth technologies. Embedding VR in virtual care platforms would assist in spreading of VR therapy, both for post-COVID-19 patients in the present and possibly for other patients with similar rehabilitation needs in the future.


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08 / Mar / 2021

Several disciplines have investigated the interconnected empathic abilities behind the proverb “to walk a mile in someone else's shoes” to determine how we perceive somebody else's pain and condition. Empathy enables us to learn from others' pain and to know when to offer support. Human brain makes an embodied simulation of the body in the world, and uses this simulation to depict and prepare its responses. Similarly, VR also stimulates sensory receptors in users & influence a person's decision-making ability.

VR solutions helps physicians and healthcare worker to get first-hand experience of the specific symptoms by themselves. For example, if a doctor or nurse can now watch and participate in a 3-D environment to feel what a patient suffering from dementia goes through everyday. In the simulation, they can hear the conversations from the patient's family going on around them and, even more impressively, they can  hear the thoughts  of the patients' they embody using VR. Virtual Reality is not only facilitating heightened empathy in existing medical practices, it's also supporting a new generation of doctors in their work. One of the most promising fields is integrating VR software that allows medical students to empathize with older adults. In fact it has been proved that using the headsets in VR medics can grasp the different difficulties that exist with old-age like severe hearing problems, joint pains, loss of vision, posture imbalance etc.

Another aspect that can be taken into consideration, is staging difficult conversations between the doctors & the family members of the patients. VR can help generate different scenarios where the doctor has to communicate news about terminally ill patients or life-ending steps. The respond during these simulations can help the doctors be more considerate and and help practice overly-distressing scenes.

It's important to recognize that virtual reality is not intended to prompt emotions from medical staff using the technology. Instead, VR can help professionals harness perceived emotions to change how they act in the real world. By having a clearer insight into patients' perceptions, tailormade VR platforms can be built to promote coping mechanisms and even rehabilitation - bridging the gap between patients and professionals for good.


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