VRx@Home Pilot Study
We are designing and rigorously evaluating the first Virtual Reality-therapy program for people with dementia (PwD) living at home, administered by their informal caregivers (family/friends). Virtual Reality (VR) presents a unique opportunity to transport people to a world outside of their confined spaces, into calming and stimulating settings (lush forest, peaceful beach, cheerful playground). Virtual Reality-therapy is a non-pharmacological approach that uses VR "experiences'' to stimulate brain function, improve psychological health, engage, and relax. It has potential to reduce symptoms of dementia such as apathy, depression, loneliness, sundowning, and the use of sedating medications with known negative side-effects.
Caregivers of PwD are more likely to feel worried, tired, overwhelmed, and depressed than non-PwD caregivers. Symptoms of dementia and caregiver stress often result in early institutionalization of PwD; management of challenging symptoms may help PwD remain in their homes for longer while improving their, and their caregivers', Quality of Life (QoL). Addressing the wellbeing of caregivers is an often overlooked, yet integral part of interventions for PwD. It ensures intervention feasibility but also has a distinct impact on our system, reducing healthcare needs of caregivers and allowing them to continue contributing as caregivers.
In this pilot study the investigators will train and assist caregivers to conduct Virtual Reality-therapy with their loved-ones at home using two devices: a head-mounted display and a tablet. This pilot study will assess: (1) the acceptability of the VR devices (2) feasibility of the study methods, (3) the impact of VR-therapy on PwD and caregiver outcomes. These findings will be used to inform a future randomized controlled trial (RCT).
For details regarding the methodology see our ClinicalTrials.gov registration (ID NCT04988360)