Ever since the first person thought of it, virtual reality has been a success in pop culture. And for good reason, since it offers the opportunity of breaking free from the laws of reality, and living in a completely different universe. And even though I’m sure that I have watched something like this at least a couple of times in fiction, MindMaze helps stroke victims via virtual reality.
Based in Switzerland, MindMaze is a company that just started up four years ago, and has recently received a huge investment of $100 million. How, you ask? Well, the 34 year old CEO came up with a brilliant idea to help stroke and other brain damage victims recover a lot faster by using virtual reality.
Tej Tadi, the company’s CEO, explained how the procedure works in layman’s terms, in a very comprehendible way. By blending his knowledge of neuroscience and virtual reality hardware, he managed to find a way to trick the brain of a stroke victim into restoring mobility to the victim’s affected limbs much faster.
For example, imagine someone who suffered from a stroke and has lost the mobility of their left hand. Putting on the company’s virtual reality goggles, the person will be shown a 3D realistic representation of herself. The patient will then be able to control this avatar in any way that she wishes.
By having the computer simulation’s left hand move the same way the patient uses her right hand, their brain will be tricked into thinking that it can actually move the affected hand. When removing the goggles, the brain will still think it can move the hand, but it won’t actually be able to.
This process accelerates the recovery of movement in the affected hand because the brain will keep trying to regain control over it until it actually succeeds. This procedure is often used is other domains, only instead of goggles a blindfold is used, and the patient is asked to imagine the affected limb.
With 2016 set to be the year of virtual reality (practically all major tech companies are launching at least a device this year), the public opinion is becoming more and favorable for the technology. The progress is expected to change a wide array of industries, especially for entertainment.
And the fact that a company actually managed to use the still developing technology in order to do some good and help treat stroke or accident victims speaks a lot about its huge potential for changing the world for the better.
Image source: Wikimedia