BOSTON (CBS) – Virtual reality can take people to places that they may not otherwise not be able to visit.  A new study from the United Kingdom finds that virtual reality technology could be used to improve the quality of life for people with dementia.

Researchers recruited eight patients with dementia ranging in age from 41 to 88.  Over 16 sessions, each patient was equipped with a VR headset to visit one of five virtual environments:  a cathedral, a forest, a sandy beach, a rocky beach and a countryside.

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The VR experience seemed to help patients recall old memories.  For example, one patient saw a bridge that reminded them of a prior trip while another remembered a vacation where they visited a market.

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The experience seemed to bring comfort to the patients and improve mood and their caregivers were able to learn more about their lives, which improved social interaction.

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Researchers say that one day environments could be tailored to individual patients featuring their home or a favorite location.

Dr. Mallika Marshall