VR simulators could give insight into dementia

21 March 2017 10:04

850,000 people suffer with dementia in the UK

850,000 people suffer with dementia in the UK

The effects of being in skyscrapers, at concerts or even walking on wobbly bridges could help scientists understand the experiences of dementia sufferers, researchers are claiming.

A virtual reality research project is currently being undertaken by scientists at the universities of Bath and Exeter, and will simulate the vibrations felt in different types of scenarios.

According to the Alzheimer's Society, there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, and this could rise to over one million by 2025.

Dr Vicki Goodwin, of the University of Exeter, says the vibration simulators can be used to create environments for people with dementia.

She said: "This new world-class facility will help us better understand how people move. This will help us to create supportive environments, for example for people with dementia.

"It will also help us develop rehabilitation programmes, including those using technology, to improve movement and ultimately wellbeing."

Dementia sufferers and people with Alzheimer's disease can take out medical travel insurance for trips abroad.

Measuring discomfort

The VSimulators will be funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and will cost £4.8 million. The five-year study will be funded by the two universities, costing £2.45 million.

Dr Antony Darby, head of civil engineering at the University of Bath, said: "Just like sea sickness, our propensity to motion induced discomfort is situation and environment dependent.

"We now have the ability to simulate not only the structural motion, but the surroundings, temperature, noise, air quality, even smell, all of which contribute to our experience of, and tolerance to, building motion."

A team of engineers, medics, psychologists and physiologists will be involved in the five-year study.

 

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