Brian Barnes knows how virtual reality appears to benefit senior living residents.
He is chief operating officer and chief financial officer of The Legacy Senior Communities, and the company’s The Legacy at Willow Bend in Plano, TX, served as the site of a recent field trial for MyndVR’s virtual reality solution. About 20 residents across all parts of the continuing care retirement community participated, he told McKnight’s Senior Living.
“Some residents started to connect the experience to memories in their own lives, and they began to reminisce. Others were brought to tears of joy and their moods were positively impacted,” Barnes said. “Some even had a reduction in symptoms related to medical conditions while using virtual reality.”
Virtual reality has the potential to become part of the CCRC’s programming as a form of clinical treatment or entertainment in the future, he said.
Other field trial locations where MyndVR has been testing its proprietary virtual reality interface over the past year, company representatives told McKnight’s Senior Living, include the Golden Inn and Village, the Rona Barrett Foundation’s affordable seniors housing community in Santa Ynez, CA; Encore at Avalon Park, an assisted living and memory care community in Orlando, FL; and Linn Community Nursing Home, part of a CCRC in Linn, KS. More than 250 residents have been involved, using the equipment to take them through several different interactive environments.
“Our next step is to hold clinical trials that include brain scans to show how our unique content and technology creates emotional connections and establish the basis for prescriptive digital therapy,” said Chris Brickler, co-founder and CEO of MyndVR.
In addition, the company has been curating a library of licensed and original virtual reality content specifically designed to interest seniors. Shawn Wiora, co-founder of MyndVR, said the company’s content creation efforts are being guided by a scientific advisory board that includes technologists and brain scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas and several other research institutions.
“We curate licensed content and produce our own — which includes casting and filming just like a real movie — to give older adults relatable and enjoyable experiences,” Brickler said.
To create original content, company employees travel across the country filming nature, cities and venues such as a New York night club. The content is customizable and can specifically target certain physical or cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.
MyndVR’s name is a play on “mind,” substituting a “y” for the “i” to demonstrate possessiveness, Brickler said.
The technology is in the pre-sale stage, but ultimately, MyndVR plans to make it, as well as training, available not only to senior living communities but also to home healthcare agencies. Eventually, consumers should be able to buy it directly.