What do you do when you are physically lost? You reach out to Google maps to find your location. But what can you do when you are lost in a fog of memories? Memories, which only seems to overlap and confuse you. Memories, which have no definite boundary and are merely a blur. Virtual reality gadget could be the answer. Virtual Reality, you ask in questioning disbelief. Yes, VR it could be. VR emerges from the arena of gaming to offer solace and hope to those affected by dementia.
Prior to the advent of VR, reminiscence jerk therapy resorted to old photographs, familiar music, childhood surroundings etc. The underlying precept here was to tap memory cells in the hippocampus that would stir the old and familiar. This, in turn, would elicit conversation and a communication channel could be established. The need for tranquilizers was therefore reduced as it put the patient in his/her comfort zone and removed anxiety and apprehension.
VR therapy is based on the same fundamental principle. It goes a step further and creates an immersive atmosphere. This 3-dimensional experience is more holistic and stimulates two to three senses at the same time.
The virtual reality gadget aptly named Wayback brings you VR in a box. Connect your smartphone to the box with the Wayback application and you can literally immerse yourself in the past. The patient can use headphones for a complete experience. What is amazing is that a band of seemingly motley persons created Wayback. Individuals from low-tech circles and professionals from the highly animated world of Harry Potter joined hands. Through their combined efforts they created the magic of Wayback, to unlock times past.
Around 500 carers and nursing homes are using these viewing boxes and finding them beneficial. However, till date, there is no official clinical validation for this therapy. But the good news is that it is doing what it was intended to do. It has notably improved the quality of life of those afflicted with dementia. Their recognition and communication skills have improved. The device takes the users back to their long-term memory lanes. This makes them feel more than comfortable and confident rather than dwelling in the uncertainty of their short-term memory. Residents at nursing homes were found to be smiling, singing and commenting on the old and familiar.
This gadget is comparatively inexpensive to procure. But its effect in restoring lost relationships and soothing nerves are immense. The lack or loss of communication is what tends to make individuals drift apart. It is a very sad state of affairs when children move away from their parents for lack of communication channels. For as little as £1, you can purchase this gadget – isn’t that amazing?. Yet the emotional benefits far outweigh the commercial cost of this device. It can restore family ties and give meaning to the life of a dementia patient.
If you have a family member who is suffering from dementia, hope is now around the corner. Try out this virtual reality gadget to recreate his/her memories and re-connect. It is sure to reduce stress levels for both the patient and carer. Please, therefore, write to us with your suggestions.