Virtual reality screening for dementia
Vitae VR are working in close collaboration with researchers from the Centre for CNS Therapeutics at the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) to develop VStore, a virtual reality supermarket that frees up GP time by offering a fun and engaging cognitive dementia test that can be done anywhere by anyone. The results of the test are referred to GPs and specialist memory clinics if the user is showing early signs of dementia.
Delayed or undiagnosed dementia denies patients the early care they need and can reduce the effectiveness of subsequent treatment. Traditional pen and paper tests used for screening for dementia, and many other disorders characterized by cognitive problems, are limited by their inability to assess impact on real-life functioning.
Recent developments in assessment have included a caregiver questionnaire to obtain some data regarding day-to-day function. However, this innovative use of VR technology offers a solution to this problem and could offer benefits for future trials of dementia treatments.
VStore has been tested in an internal study pilot trial against a baseline of existing online cognitive assessments with 20 healthy participants. The data showed a high correlation with the existing tests, but with a much quicker assessment and good user feedback. The results have been analysed by independent researchers at UCL, demonstrating that VStore potentially offers an accurate and sensitive cognitive test.
The next steps for the project are to further test VStore, working with the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group to place the product in acute and primary care settings. The work will be specifically testing whether it is capable of detecting mild cognitive impairment leading to Alzheimer’s Disease more accurately than existing tests, and comparing the results against a baseline of current primary care assessments.