Virtual reality as physiotherapy for dementia patients

(From left) North East District Mayor Desmond Choo; Musim Mas director and chief financial officer Alvin Lim Ek Tie; Musim Mas director Lim Ek Kian; Alzheimer's Disease Association (ADA) vice-president Ng Li-Ling; ADA chief executive Jason Foo; and M
(From left) North East District Mayor Desmond Choo; Musim Mas director and chief financial officer Alvin Lim Ek Tie; Musim Mas director Lim Ek Kian; Alzheimer's Disease Association (ADA) vice-president Ng Li-Ling; ADA chief executive Jason Foo; and Musim Mas managing director of global business oleochemicals John Hall at the cheque presentation yesterday. PHOTO: ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE ASSOCIATION

The use of virtual reality (VR) as part of therapy for those with dementia will be rolled out by the end of this month at the Alzheimer's Disease Association (ADA).

Such sessions stimulate the mind and are a form of physiotherapy.

For example, one VR activity allows users to immerse themselves on a scenic beach while gently pedalling along the shore - all the while sitting on a stationary bicycle.

These therapies will be funded from a $1 million donation made by Singapore-based palm oil company Musim Mas yesterday.

The funds will also go towards subsidising ADA daycare fees, which are $72 daily, for 300 low-income families.

Other ADA programmes to be funded will include VR workshops for caregivers of those with dementia to gain a deeper understanding of the illness and a public awareness campaign in September.

The donation will also sponsor cognitive enrichment activities at ADA involving those with dementia and their caregivers.

 
 
 
 

"Dementia is a form of medical condition that is devastating," North East District Mayor Desmond Choo said at the cheque presentation at Our Tampines Hub yesterday.

"It not only affects you greatly but strips you of who you are as a person - that alone is an important issue we must address as a community."

One in 10 people aged 60 and above are believed to suffer from dementia, said Mr Choo, adding that in the six to eight blocks he visits each month, he usually meets at least one resident with dementia.

It is estimated that there are 82,000 people in Singapore with dementia, and the number is expected to go beyond 100,000 by 2030, according to the ADA.

The ADA currently has four daycare centres in Singapore. Members of the public wanting dementia-related help or advice may call ADA's helpline on 6377-0700.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2019, with the headline 'Virtual reality as physiotherapy for dementia patients'. Print Edition | Subscribe