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New Zealand Scientists Develop New Virtual Reality Therapy for Stroke Survivors

Stroke? Survivors of stroke face immense difficluty to lead life thereafter and to ease their pains, New Zealand scientists from the University of Canterbury have developed a new ‘Virtual Reality’ therapy to remember time and event-based prospective memory tasks.

The prospective memory or the ability to remember to perform actions in the future is crucial for everyday life for stroke victims later on and in their rehabilitation.

brainProfessor Tanja Mitrovic of the university said, “This kind of memory is often impaired in stroke survivors and can interfere with independent living, as it can result in forgetting to take medication or remember something they had to do.”

The researchers have developed a computer-based treatment based on visual imagery that taught participants on prospective memory tasks and how to remember time.

“It is a complex cognitive ability, which requires coordination of multiple cognitive abilities: spatial navigation, retrospective memory, attention and executive functioning,” said Mitrovic.

After the treatment, post-stroke patients practised their skills using videos first and later in a 3D virtual reality environment.

“We conducted a study which ended in October last year with 15 stroke survivors. Each participant had 10 individual sessions spread over 10 weeks. The analysis shows that the memory skills of the stroke patients we tested increased significantly,” said Mitrovic.

The aim of the research was to make the training available freely over the internet to stroke survivors, enabling them to lead a better quality life and lead at least some time away from round-the-clock care, said researchers.

Stroke is a major killer in many countries after cancer and surviving it also leads serious adult disability in patients.

(With inputs from IANS)

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