How Virtual Reality May Help Dementia Symptoms


Can virtual reality may a role in decreasing dementia symptoms?

What is Dementia? Dementia is a general term that describes a large array of symptoms related to the loss of memory and various thinking skills. These dementia symptoms are normally severe enough to make the individual unable to follow through with everyday tasks and activities. Alzheimer’s is one of the main dementia diseases, making up somewhere between 60-80% of cases. Another type of dementia is vascular dementia which unlike Alzheimer’s, occurs after a stroke, and is the second most common type of dementia. That doesn’t mean that all types of dementia are limited to these two conditions but many diseases that can cause dementia symptoms. It’s important to point out that “senile” which is a wide belief that serious mental decline comes with age, is not correct. Here we’re going to talk about dementia symptoms as well as about new studies that show how virtual reality may help memory loss symptoms.

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Virtual Reality and Dementia

Recent studies around Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms from the University of Kent in the UK worked with patients with dementia between the ages of 41 and 88 with virtual environments. The main environments used in the virtual reality were a cathedral, a forest, a sandy beach, a rocky beach, and the countryside. The main finding of the virtual realities was that the patients were able to recall memories lost due to seeing the images that triggered the memories. The focus currently is on using virtual reality to help those with memory issues recall important memories and thus boost mood and engagement levels. This can also help those who are caring for individuals with memory loss have a deeper understanding of who they are if they did not previously know them. Research is leaning towards tailoring environments to specific patients to recreate environments such as their home or a place that was special to them. Research is still ongoing but what has been found as of today is showing positive benefits for the individual with memory loss.

Dementia Symptoms

It’s common for dementia symptoms such as those of Alzheimer’s to vary greatly. In general, people suffer from short-term memory loss as well as keeping track of things such as belongings, paying bills and preparing food. Other common symptoms of memory loss can include:

  • Memory
  • Communication and Language
  • Lessened Ability to Focus
  • Lessened Ability to pay attention
  • Loss of judgement
  • Loss of reasoning
  • Loss of visual perception

The brain is full of areas that are used for various types of functions that have to do with memory, judgment, and movement. Memory loss is caused by damage to brain cells and ultimately interferes with the brain’s ability to allow cells to communicate with each other. When the cells in the brain are unable to communicate the way they are meant to problems with thinking and behavior can pop up. In the case of Alzheimer’s the brain has high levels of proteins that make it difficult for the cells in the brain to stay healthy and communicate well. The hippocampus is the main center for memory and learning and this is normally the first region damaged with Alzheimer’s making memory loss one of the first visible symptoms of this specific disease.

Click here to find tips on how to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s.

Dementia, unfortunately, is progressive in most cases. This means that it may start out as slight memory loss but later develop into something worse. It is important to see a doctor if a loved one is experiencing memory difficulties or changes in thinking skills. Early diagnosis is best to allow individuals to get the most out of treatments available and go through clinical studies. Early diagnosis also allows for plans for the future and can be diagnosed through going through medical history, physical exams, and laboratory tests.

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