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 ageing. 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 Centre 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.