My passion for technology stems from a childhood passion for disassembling and reassembling household electronics. This curiosity remained with me throughout my formal education in medical sciences, and promotes my interest in improving healthcare through innovative technologies. Our multidisciplinary team, led by Dr. Mandar Jog at the National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence Movement Disorder Centre, is developing an unconventional application of virtual reality technology for the rehabilitation of elderly patients with mobility disorders. Our endeavours to date have been met with excellent feedback from our patients, which further inspire us to explore these new opportunities. These efforts will aim to significantly improve quality of life for this important demographic.
Healthcare delivery for the aging population continues to carry critical medical and social implications in both developed and developing nations. The costs, availability of service, and a lowered standard of care, are notable problematic areas amplified by our aging demographic. Quality of life in the elderly is determined largely by the ability to maintain independent mobility. Physical ailments, such as arthritis and joint disease, and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson and Alzheimer disease, can all contribute to impaired mobility and independence by compromising activities of daily living, such as cooking, shopping, and self-care. Mobility rehabilitation continues to fall short of addressing these task specific activities. We believe the solution exists in the new application of virtual reality technology that is personalized, portable, and cost-effective. Our solution is based on Augmented Immersion Virtual Reality (AIVR), an innovative forefront technology in the world gaming industry. To date, our team has designed and tested an AIVR system prototype with elderly patients and Parkinson disease patients. We propose a therapeutic design in which participants, wearing a VR visor, can actually walk through an immersive virtual environment unrestricted and interact with real objects to improve their navigation skills and executive functions, all whilst performing scenario-relevant routine activities. Quite simply, we can now transform any room into a personalized mobility rehabilitation centre from the safety of the users own home.
Science: advancements, theories, innovations
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