How Virtual Reality (VR) is Revolutionizing Healthcare for Seniors

While seniors are often thought of as being less than tech-savvy, new research is finding that technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality are effective tools for treating conditions common in the senior population, especially those involving memory loss and chronic pain.

How Virtual Reality (VR) is Revolutionizing Healthcare for Seniors

Virtual reality is influencing medicine and changing the way seniors are cared for around the world. From pain management to quality of life, the possibilities seem endless when it comes to virtual reality in senior care.

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality is a computer technology that creates a simulated environment or experience for the user. Instead of viewing an environment on a screen (like a TV, computer or smartphone), virtual reality places users “inside” the experience.

Virtual Reality and the Management of Chronic Pain

When it comes to pain management, a crucial element of treatment is the distraction from pain. SnowWorld, a VR game created in 1996, was one of the first uses of virtual reality for the purposes of distracting people from their pain. In fact, it was used to help burn victims cope with extraordinarily painful treatments like wound cleaning, dressing changes and skin grafts.

SnowWorld takes users on an exciting ride through snow-filled canyons. Points are earned by throwing snowballs at snowmen, penguins, mammoths and flying fish. The idea behind the creation of a snowy experience is that the concept of snow and the cold is the opposite to heat and fire, helping to take patients’ minds off their injury.

This program has led to exciting developments when it comes to the treatment of chronic pain for the elderly. In fact, VR is being used as an alternative form of treatment for conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis, two diseases with incredibly painful symptoms.

Virtual Reality and Alzheimer’s Disease

Another virtual reality game, Sea Hero Quest, is helping scientists detect a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease in players as young as 18 years old.

The game begins by showing the player a map for a brief period of time. The player must then navigate an interactive world filled with challenges using only the information they can recall from the map. While this may sound challenging, it was determined that individuals with a lower performance showed reduced functioning of a specific type of brain cell responsible for spatial navigation. Because poor spatial navigation is a key indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, scientists were able to determine that there was a correlation between game performance and risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information on how virtual reality is being used in the senior health care industry, check out the Infographic below developed by A Place for Mom.

How Virtual Reality (VR) is Revolutionizing Healthcare for Seniors

How Virtual Reality (VR) is Revolutionizing Healthcare for Seniors - Infographic

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