A NEW virtual reality therapy trialled in Oxfordshire could soon be helping dementia patients across the country.

The LookBack VR application, could revolutionise dementia therapy using immersive technology to take dementia sufferers into their past.

Developed by Oxford University students, Arfa Rehman, 24, and Scott Gorman, 37, the app can be used to immerse patients into settings from the 40s, 50s and 60s to help prompt memory recall and engagement.

The pair worked with leading psychiatrists and experts as well as over 100 users and carers in Oxfordshire care homes.

The entrepreneurs are now hoping to develop the technology further by partnering their start-up digital health and wellness company, Virtue, after entering the tech into the recent Virgin Voom awards.

Ms Rehman said: “We’ve created a digital version of reminiscence therapy, which is used in care home ‘dementia villages’.

“These have staged historical settings from the 40s, 50s and 60s to prompt memory recall and engagement.

“Creating such sites can be expensive, but VR allows this to be done digitally for a fraction of the cost.”

Reminiscence therapy is widely used to help dementia sufferers recall events from long ago, even when short term memory is failing.

Mr Gorman said the VR sessions could take users back to an old-style sweet shop, a trip on a steam train or an afternoon on the beach, and so far feedback has been very positive.

“We were all astounded by the reaction.

“People just lit up and became talkative.

“They wanted to describe what they were seeing and reached out, as if they could touch and interact with the scene.

“The mood in the care home totally changed, and that was wonderful.”

For more information visit http://vrtu.org/