Doctor Sonya Kim has been using virtual reality with elderly people to help prevent loneliness and reduce the prevalence of depression.
Kim’s company, One Caring Team, runs a therapy program called Aloha which enables patients to immerse themselves in a relaxing and peaceful virtual world of tropical islands and sandy beaches.
“It’s a new solution for an old problem,” says Kim. “It lifts the moods of those patients who are so anxious and bored, or depressed because they think no one cares about them. We’ve brought beautiful places to seniors who can’t go anywhere.”
The program has been running for some time and has recently discovered that using VR therapy can also be of great benefit to some patients suffering from dementia. Upon hearing Dr Kim speak about her company, a woman was compelled to ask whether she could help her mother, who suffers from dementia.
Dr Kim accepted this challenge and has never looked back. Some patients who were unresponsive and even violent have completely changed after only a few sessions of VR. When asked how it works Kim admitted that she doesn’t yet know. She says “I think VR allows patients neural pathways to be reactivated – some have dormant pathways – because of the power of presence, of having something right in front of them without any distraction.”.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 47.5 million people suffer from the dementia worldwide so we’re incredibly excited by the potential of Dr Kim’s work.