Memory Training Tool Using Virtual Reality Available for Alzheimer’s Patients

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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Swann VR

Sokhey announced it recently launched Swann VR, the world’s first virtual reality memory training device specifically designed for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The company, and product, were created by Taegh Sokhey, a Northwestern University student planning to start medical school.

“Patients now have an effective tool that they can bring into their homes and use alongside other therapies. This minimizes the need for transport and helps reduce the workload of primary caregivers,” Sokhey said in a press release.

Swann VR uses a technology called Oculus Rift to provide an new and immersive experience for Alzheimer’s patients. Oculus Rift allows for users to interact with the software in a realistic way, the release states.

Swann VR encourages neuroplasticity and works to improve spatial memory by providing patients with a map to memorize. The virtual reality or VR tool provides users with a map and a set of objects they must retrieve. If the user forgets the location of a certain object, they can reopen the map at a point cost, a penalty that encourages them to develop spatial memory skills. Users are rewarded with additional points for completing the levels at higher difficulty.

It features five environments and over 50 objects that users can interact with.

Caregivers or healthcare professionals are encouraged to select environments that best mirror what patients experience on a daily basis. Swann’s software also features specialized physics to ensure accessibility for patients in wheelchairs and other height-modifying assistive devices.

Sokhey’s inspiration  comes from a fourth-grade teacher, Kevin Swann, who Sokhey credits with foster a childhood wish to  help Alzheimer’s patients.

“I could not be any prouder of Taegh! His creative thinking coupled with an intense desire to make the world a better place for others has led to an opportunity for millions of people,” Swann said in the release.

Studies investigating the value of VR in memory rehabilitation have suggested that it can be useful in improving memory and retention.

Swann VR intuitive menu systems were designed by Maxwell Anderson, a leading U.S. designer whose diverse portfolio includes work for several Fortune 500 companies.

A  percentage of all profits from the sale of Swann VR will go directly to an Alzheimer’s charity, the release states.