VRx: Feasibility Trial

Older adults living in long term care, rehabilitation hospitals, and seniors' residences often experience reduced mobility, sometimes resulting in confinement indoors and isolation, which can introduce or aggravate symptoms of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and apathy. As Virtual Reality (VR) technologies become increasingly accessible and affordable, there is a unique opportunity to enable older adults to escape their restricted physical realities and be transported to both stimulating and calming places which may improve their general well-being. To date no robust evaluations of the use of immersive VR therapy [experienced through a head-mounted-display (HMD)] for older adults within these settings have been reported. VR-therapy may prove to be a safe, inexpensive, non-pharmacological means of managing depressive symptoms and providing engagement and enjoyment to this rapidly growing demographic.

The objective of this study was to establish whether it is feasible to use immersive VR technology as therapy for older adults who have reduced sensory, mobility and/or impaired cognition. This includes evaluation of tolerability, comfort, and ease of use of the HMD, and of the potential for immersive VR to provide enjoyment/relaxation and reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Read the results in our published manuscript:

Appel, L., Appel, E., Bogler, O., Wiseman, M., Cohen, L., Ein, N., Abrams, H. B., & Campos, J. L. (2020). Older adults with cognitive and/or physical impairments can benefit from immersive virtual reality experiences: a feasibility study. Frontiers in medicine, 6, 329. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2019.00329

Peer-reviewed conference Presentations:
  1. Appel, L. Bogler, O., Appel, E., Wiseman, M., Cohen, L., Hill, D., Ein, N., Abrams, H., and Campos, J. (2019) Providing frail older adults with therapeutic experiences using immersive Virtual Reality. National Conference on Frailty, September 26-27. Toronto, Canada

  2. Appel, L. Bogler, O., Appel, E., Wiseman, M., Cohen, L., Hill, D., Ein, N., Abrams, H., and Campos, J. (2018) Prescribing Virtual Reality (VRx): A novel therapy for people living with Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment – Preliminary results from a multi-site study. Presented at The State of the Art in Dementia Research Congress July 16 - 18, Valencia, Spain

  3. Appel, L. Bogler, O., Appel, E., Wiseman, M., Cohen, L., Hill, D., Ein, N., Abrams, H., and Campos, J. (2018) Prescribing Virtual Reality (VRx): A novel therapy for people living with Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment – Preliminary results from a multi-site study. Presented at the European Healthcare Design - Utopia or dystopia: Visioning the future of health Royal College of Physicians, June 11–13, 2018. London, UK

  4. Appel, L. Bogler, O., Appel, E., Wiseman, M., Cohen, L., Hill, D., Ein, N., Abrams, H., and Campos, J. (2018) Prescribing Virtual Reality (VRx): A novel therapy for people living with Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment – Preliminary results from a multi-site study. Presented at Virtual Reality and Healthcare Symposium ‘18, Harvard Medical School, March 5-6, 2018. Boston, MA

  5. Appel, L. Bogler, O., Appel, E., Wiseman, M., Cohen, L., Hill, D., Ein, N., Abrams, H., and Campos, J. Prescribing Virtual Reality (VRx): Can exposure to simulated natural environments using Virtual Reality (VR) offer an alternative therapy for those living with dementia/ cognitive impairment who are limited from being outside? Canadian Conference on Dementia, November 2017. Toronto CA.

  6. Appel, L. Bogler, O., Appel, E., Wiseman, M., Cohen, L., Hill, D., Ein, N., Abrams, H., and Campos, J.  Prescribing Virtual Reality (VRx): Can exposure to simulated natural environments using Virtual Reality (VR) offer an alternative therapy for those living with dementia/ cognitive impairment who are limited from being outside? Toronto General Hospital Research Day. October 2017. Toronto CA.

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