Frost BSO team planning to help with project to determine virtual reality’s impact on reducing depression, boredom

Frost Manor

If the project shows favourable results, virtual reality simulators could be used to prevent agitation in residents with cognitive impairment

Frost Manor’s Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) team is planning to embark on a pilot project to help gather measurable data for a company that offers virtual reality services to seniors to enhance their quality of life.

The project, which is a partnership between the Lindsay long-term care home and Personal Reality, is currently on hold amid the COVID-19  pandemic.

However, once launched, the initiative’s goal is to discover if virtual reality can reduce boredom and depression in people affected by dementia by helping them re-live fond experiences or partaking in enjoyable hobbies.

Virtual reality uses computer technology to create a simulated environment that people experience by wearing head-mounted displays that project images that give the person the impression they’re in the midst of the action.

For example, a person who enjoys hiking on trails could be given that experience by wearing a head-mounted display loaded with images of a grassy trail or a path going through a forest.

A group of Frost Manor residents with varied interests have agreed to participate in this project.

One resident enjoys fishing, while another is a big fan of WWE Wrestling, so fishing and wrestling images could be loaded into the simulators, explains Frost Manor life enrichment co-ordinator Lyndsay Burton.

As part of the project, the residents will use virtual reality simulators supplied by Personal Reality and Frost Manor team members will gauge the results for the company.

Brian Huber, a Frost Manor registered practical nurse and member of the home’s BSO team, says if residents have positive reactions to their virtual reality experiences, there may be an opportunity to use virtual reality as an intervention.

“If this is something that is successful, then I think it would work really well as a measure to prevent boredom and depression,” he tells The OMNIway.

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