SINGAPORE: A new three—dimensional software has been developed to test and rehabilitate brain function in stroke and early dementia patients.
Doctors at the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) said the virtual reality simulation program is the first of its kind in the world.
The program is developed by the Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) and NNI.
The software works like an interactive game — simulating real—life situations that Asian patients can easily relate to.
These include activities such as going to a supermarket for groceries and choosing ingredients to prepare breakfast.
The program rewards patients with instant feedback and sound effects and has different complexity levels to match different abilities.
As the patient performs different tasks with the computer controls, data from his or her actions and decisions are tracked and captured.
Dr Nageandran Kandiah, who is a consultant at the institute, has been working on the project since 2010.
Dr Nageandran said: "Patients with dementia possess memory difficulty, whereas patients with stroke may have problems with planning. The stroke may affect his judgement. So this program will be able to capture deficits in stroke patients and also in dementia."
This in turn helps doctors identify gaps in the patient’s brain function such as memory loss and spatial skills.
The software is a departure from the traditional questionnaire administered by a psychologist to test for memory loss.
Eighty—year—old patient Lenny Leow welcomed the changes.
"I found that it (the test) was quite childish. This is much better. It is fast. The test would take half an hour but you can do (this software) in about five, 10 minutes," said Mr Leow.
The new software will also allow multiple patients to be tested at one sitting.
Dr Nageandran said: "We have 25,000 patients and this is going to increase to 55,000 patients over the next seven years. That is an alarming number. So, doubling of patients means doubling of healthcare service, and that’s not possible.
"That is where technology comes in to try and match or fill in the gap where we can do testing on multiple patients at the same time in a cost—effective manner."
Up to 80 per cent of the total time spent previously is expected to be saved.
Dr Nagaendran said this means shorter waiting times in hospitals, earlier diagnosis and faster treatment for the patient.
NNI plans to implement the virtual reality simulation program next year at all its clinics which specialise in the assessment and diagnosis of memory disorders.
There are also plans to extend the service to patients at regional hospitals through the tele—health infrastructure that IHiS is setting up.
Dr Nageandran also said they are looking into producing Malay and Mandarin versions of the program.
And there are also plans to export the program to other Southeast Asian countries in the future.
MORE SINGAPORE NEWS
Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn
Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda presents his film "Like Father, Like Son" at the Cannes film festival, the story of two families who fall... More Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda presents his film "Like Father, Like Son" at the Cannes film festival, the story of two families who fall victim to a baby swap. Duration: 01:35
Date 31 mins ago, Duration 1:35, Views 0