Virtual reality is coming of age and it is being used in more ways than one. Apart from its usage in games, scientists are trying to find ways in which it can help patients recover from stroke. They have worked on developing a new treatment which will improve the memory of stroke patients by using a 3D virtual reality surrounding. The treatment method has been developed by the researchers from the University of Canterbury, located in New Zealand.
Practicing Cognitive Skills
According to Professor, Tanja Mitrovic, the tests which were carried out in a virtual reality surrounding for stroke patients, have worked properly and the stroke patients can practice their cognitive skills in this environment. He added that for everyday life, prospective memory or remembering to execute actions in the future is extremely necessary. For stroke survivors, this kind of memory is often weak or damaged. This can cause them to forget taking medicines timely or recalling something later, thereby causing an interference in their independent living.
Mitrovic said “It is a complex cognitive ability, which requires coordination of multiple cognitive abilities: spatial navigation, retrospective memory, attention and executive functioning. We have developed a computer-based treatment based on visual imagery which teaches participants how to remember time and event-based prospective memory tasks. After the treatment, participants practiced their skills using videos first and later in a 3D virtual reality environment.”
The Study and the Result
The researchers conducted the study on 15 stroke survivors. There were 10 individual sessions for each of the participant which continued over 10 weeks. The treatment they got, taught the participants how to remember the time and other memory based tasks.
After the treatment, the results showed that the memory skills of the stroke patients, who had participated in the study, had increased at a significant rate. The goal of the researchers is to make this treatment available over the web to stroke patients and that too free of cost.
What do you think?
Do you think virtual reality can help stroke patients improve their memory? What other applications of virtual reality would you like to see in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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