General News — 18 March 2014
Dementia patients to chill-out with video games

Healthcare experts have found a way to bring serenity to the lives of people  with dementia – thrill-a-second gaming technology.bigstock-Senior-Man-Outdoor-9009271

They want to use the technology to create virtual experiences people can  enjoy at home or in care centres. The idea is to replace bouts of anxiety,  agitation and depression with a distraction that is calming and engaging.

Alzheimer’s Australia Vic has teamed up with Opaque Multimedia – a Melbourne  digital-design studio – to develop the technology. Similar consoles to video  games will be used.

Their first project is a virtual forest, that will allow people with dementia  to control their environment as they wave their arms to make the wind gust  through the trees. ”It creates a complete sensory experience of sight, sound  and kinetic interaction,” says Alzheimer’s Australia Vic CEO Maree McCabe. She  said the  virtual environment could induce  ”awe, wonder, giggles, amazement  and joy”.

Ms McCabe  said the idea was inspired by a previous IT project aimed at helping  people understand what it feels like to have dementia. She is excited about  other concepts such as a beach experience or a festive Christmas scenario.

This article first appeared on ‘WA Today’ on 17 March 2014.

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