Game Helps Alzheimer's Patients Form Memories

Game Helps Alzheimer's Patients Form Memories

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Student shows off game designed to help people with dementia.

The brain is basically a series of networked nerve cells transferring information along billions of connections. We aren't certain how it works, but we do know that people who suffer from dementia as a result of Alzheimer's disease have trouble forming new connections and therefore retaining information. A student from Staffordshire University in the UK has been working on a videogame called Life in Memory Lane which assists the player in storing memories by assembling bits of biographical information. The new memory is then shown to the player through a short piece of video set to music.

"This is something I'm really passionate about," said Zohabe Aziz, the 23-year-old designer of the game. "A lot of games and activities do not relate to people with dementia. I've tried to relate mine to the person and their experiences to keep their memories intact while keeping the design simple and user-friendly so they can navigate their way through the game using quite large buttons."

The game is played by choosing details about the player's life, such as occupation, personality traits, physical features and geographical location. The player then goes about their daily activities like cooking a meal, and the code then creates a snippet of video to reflect an actual memory. The whole experience is meant to evoke the real (yet missing) memories of the player.

Aziz works part time at a home for people with dementia, and he used that experience to inform his work. "Zohabe has applied his understanding of the nature of dementia, how it affects a person's doing abilities but also the potential for even a diseased brain to retain the ability to make new neurological connections," said Kerry Fisher, an expert in dementia. "In utilizing his knowledge and skills, Zohabe has developed strategies in response to these difficulties to ensure that his computer game can be programmed to work on the needs and at the level of the person playing it."

The project isn't yet complete, but Zohabe Aziz hopes to continue work after he graduates.

Source: Staffordshire University

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That sounds... remarkably awesome. I do wonder though - does the game need to be set up by someone else since the patient can't retrieve the memory themselves? Or is it a case of "Here's your daily routine, let's go through it step by step, see if you remember anything new."

Does it actually work? Not putting sour cynical cap on, this is a genuine question. It wasn't mentioned whether or not Alzheimer's patients are benefitting from it.

This is absolutely brilliant.

My grandmother had to go through the entirety of Alzheimer's -- and we all had to witness her descend from a very warm, reliable person to a catatonic shell of her former self. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Any sort of development that helps impair or slow the damage this horrible disease does is something I wholeheartedly advocate, and I really congratulate Zohabe on his ingenuity and willingness to help the poor sods with the condition. I think something like this that would have helped her be able to try to salvage what she remembered of her life could have really made her a lot more comfortable.

Keep on the good work, man. It's worth it.

CosmicCommander:
This is absolutely brilliant.

My grandmother had to go through the entirety of Alzheimer's -- and we all had to witness her descend from a very warm, reliable person to a catatonic shell of her former self. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Any sort of development that helps impair or slow the damage this horrible disease does is something I wholeheartedly advocate, and I really congratulate Zohabe on his ingenuity and willingness to help the poor sods with the condition. I think something like this that would have helped her be able to try to salvage what she remembered of her life could have really made her a lot more comfortable.

Keep on the good work, man. It's worth it.

A remarkably warm sentiment good sir, and one I share avidly.

My father is 62 in November, and is already developing dementia. Just today he asked me twice to pick up some milk fom work in the space of a few minutes. We like to have a laugh and a joke about it but, as he is the breadwinner and I can't possibly find a well enough paid job (i'm 19) I do worry that he is going to be forced to retire. While having 4 pensions will certainly help, it won't be the same and, I fear, neither will he.

Alzheimers can start as early as early 30's!

Those who think this project isn't important should watch a documentary, like the one by Louis Theroux on the subject.

Frightening disease, truely horrifying :(

....it looks like the 3rd generation of pokemon games....

I worked with people with dementia, it was very interesting for me to have such an insight as an aspiring psychologist. Obviously it was also quite upsetting to see people who had lost their dignity. It's good that gaming technology has developed a practical application to aid them and make the road a little smoother.

this game was presented to a wide array of people ranging from elderly people without dementia, people who have the early onset of dementia, specialists in the field of dementia support staff management of care homes and members for the Alzheimer society. and every person that has come across this idea believes that it will make a huge difference to peoples lives. currently it is still in the concept stages, with a short demo. in the next few weeks and months the game will be developed and tested on different people from all age ranges to see how it is responded to by people with dementia and also people with out the disease. when this is complete more infomation will be available.

just to inform everyone. the game is well under way and to find out more infomate google Zohabe aziz. currently the company has set up to be working with comercial edge to help get the game out to the public sooner. we are aiming to be on the market 2013/14 at latest.

 

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