Technodriven Treatments For Seniors Aid Cognition
Sixty years ago, Robert Butler was unknown to anyone. A New York-based doctor who specializes in geriatrics and psychiatry believes older adults can gain cognitive benefits for their present and future well-being by revisiting the past. Butler wrote about his ideas to the chagrin of his colleagues, who rejected the idea of "living" in the past. Today, Butler's ideas are no longer rejected, but accepted: "Memories Therapy" is a modern version of the work of the founder of the National Institute of Aging of the National Institutes of Health.
Butler, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Why Survive? After growing old in America, he died in 2010. He believed in the "therapeutic value" of people going back in time. Theory is first applied in practice. Individuals or groups discuss important memories after viewing photos or listening to music.
Currently, memory therapy is widely practiced with additional components of virtual and augmented reality and using four main components: virtual worlds, immersion, sensory feedback and interactivity. The therapy goes by many additional names, including immersive virtual reality therapy, simulated therapy, virtual reality exposure therapy, and computer-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Whatever the name, the idea is the same. Patients perform specific tasks tailored to their specific diagnosis in a digital environment, often wearing ear plugs or glasses.
Rendever from Somerville, Massachusetts. and MyndVR, based in Plano, Texas, is among six companies offering virtual reality memory therapy for patient care. Rendever, which is a combination of the words "rendering" and "struggle", is the largest in its field, with about 450 companies in the US, Canada and Australia.
"The impact of Rendever's technology is amazing," said David Stoller, vice president of Rendever. “Whether it’s watching a person with dementia smile for the first time as they discover memories they previously forgot, or the joy of participants after a RendeverFit cycling challenge, the Rendever community has consistently demonstrated that there is no limit to the moments and magic created with this virtual reality platform. .
The Rendever platform is part of care at Cypress Cove, a senior community in Fort Myers, as well as the Vi Retirement community at Bentley Village and Gardens Respite Care Center at Terracina Health and Reification, both in Naples. The company's software is also used by many American Volunteer chapters in Fort Myers.
Harmonia the Club, an elderly care company in Naples, uses virtual and augmented reality products from various companies with club members. Harmonia's staff helps members aged 62 to 97 achieve consistent clinical benefits for a variety of conditions. Helps victims of post-traumatic stress disorder and improves dementia patients' cognitive ability and muscle control after a stroke.
“The idea is to keep people cognitively and physically active,” said Harmonia co-founder Peter Spisak. "When a club member is in the right group, it stimulates his brain and slows down the process of dementia. If he stays here all day, he sleeps better and eats better."
In some cases, caregivers have used virtual reality to simulate the experiences of patients with dementia. This helps professionals better understand what older people go through.
“When (club members) are in a group with peers of the same caliber, people really feel like they are part of something,” Spisak said. "Of course, all people are a little different, they are all personalities. But in a group, people come together and become friends."
In recent years, MIT and UC San Francisco field studies have shown that older people experience "improvement in overall health" after using virtual reality.
An MIT study reports that nearly 39% of group members reported improved health after watching VR footage from vacations and travel. Only 14.3% of the same group reported an improvement in their health after watching the same pictures on TV.
In a study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, 48 adults with a mean age of 68.7 years showed improved long-term memory after playing a custom-designed virtual reality game regularly for a month. Those who played the same game on a tablet did not see an improvement in long-term memory, according to the findings, published in the journal Nature.
“Some people can barely speak, but when you play or sing the right music or sing the right song, they come alive,” Spacek says. “The long-term memory is still there and they can sing, but they can never say a word in conversation. We have people who go to a neurologist after a few months and get much better test results.”