The goal of this project is to assess the use of virtual reality (VR) as a motivating and enjoyable way to encourage seniors to participate in regular rehabilitative exercises.
What is virtual reality? How can seniors possibly benefit from it?
The technology used for this project is a non-immersive VR system that incorporates computer hardware and software to track an individual’s movements, allowing them to interact with therapeutic games and activities on a television screen.
As seniors face many barriers to exercise, we propose VR as a motivating and enjoyable way to encourage them to do regular rehabilitative exercises. This can help maintain (or improve) their independence, ability to function, and quality of life.
Short term, we anticipate that the participants using VR will increase the number of hours of exercise performed each week, improve balance, strength, gait, and functional ability, as well as quality of life and community integration. Further, we anticipate that the participants will enjoy doing VR and feel that it increases their mobility and independence.
Long term, we predict that the participants who use the VR intervention will experience fewer falls and/or injuries due to falls, fewer emergency room visits, and fewer hospital stays.
We also anticipate shorter Extra-Mural client wait lists and a decrease in overall cost of providing Extra-Mural rehabilitation services (per client). Extra-Mural therapists may also experience positive impacts such as ability to increase caseloads.
This project is funded by the Healthy Seniors Pilot Project. The Healthy Seniors Pilot Project is a $75 million three year agreement between the Government of New Brunswick and the Public Health Agency of Canada, jointly led by the Government of New Brunswick’s Department of Social Development and the Department of Health through the Aging Secretariat.