Virtual reality program coming to state veterans homes

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 9/10/19

It will be approximately two years until area veterans will be moving into Bradley County's new veterans home, and when that happens they will have the opportunity to participate in a new virtual …

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Virtual reality program coming to state veterans homes

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It will be approximately two years until area veterans will be moving into Bradley County's new veterans home, and when that happens they will have the opportunity to participate in a new virtual reality program.


Tennessee State Veterans’ Homes (TSVH) has announced the launch of a virtual reality pilot program for skilled nursing and long-term care residents.


TSVH will partner with MyndVR, a leader in virtual reality solutions for seniors, to first bring the innovative technology to the Murfreesboro veterans home location. The service will then be provided to three other existing veterans homes in Humboldt, Knoxville and Clarksville.


This service will later be available for Bradley County residents, once construction on the new, $47 million facility is completed on Westland Drive in South Cleveland. After the recent groundbreaking, construction is expected to take 22 to 24 months.


Virtual reality will also be offered at the state's sixth veterans home, probably destined for Arlington in Shelby County on Tennessee's western end.


Arlington is in the same fundraising situation Bradley County was experiencing a few years ago. The community has secured local funding, but is waiting for approval of federal VA funds.

 

“Tennessee State Veterans Homes is excited to partner with MyndVR to bring groundbreaking technology and virtual reality therapy to our residents,” said Ed Harries, TSVH executive director. “Research has shown that utilizing immersive virtual reality can be an effective therapeutic modality for geriatric residents.”

 

At all TSVH facilities, residents receive skilled nursing care and a variety of therapy programs to help enhance their quality of life. They also have a robust calendar of daily activities in which those who are able can participate. Introducing virtual reality therapy to the homes will allow for more residents to participate and benefit from the activities, even those who are bedridden, since the MyndVR headsets have hundreds of different video experiences the residents can choose from. 

 

“The Activities Department will utilize MyndVR and monitor closely as the residents watch videos designed specifically for seniors,” said Tracy Marsteller, TSVH activities director. “Most TSVH residents are wheelchair bound or have limited mobility, and virtual reality will provide an immersive environment that empowers the residents to choose what they want to see and where they want to go.”

 

“We are proud to provide exceptional care to our residents and we are constantly looking at new ways to innovate and incorporate technology into our care plans,” said Tyler Masden, TSVH Murfreesboro administrator. “By introducing MyndVR, we are giving seniors of all levels of cognitive ability the chance to experience things that due to health reasons would otherwise not be possible.”

 

The comfortable MyndVR Vive Focus headsets, which residents will use to view the videos, offers a wide variety of engaging content such as strolling the streets of Rome, sitting front row at a Broadway musical or a thrilling  skydiving trip. The headsets also come with a tablet so staff can easily navigate the experiences for the residents. MyndVR continues to research the cognitive health benefits of virtual reality and develop new video content with seniors in mind. 

 

“We strive to improve the quality of life and lift the spirits of veterans across the country,” said Chris Brickler, CEO of MyndVR. “Our technology is more engaging than traditional forms of entertainment. It far surpasses TV and newspapers. With our immersive multi-sensory technology, veterans are able to experience true joy and escape from their four walls of existence. We're finding that VR can be used for healing in many ways and can provide immense emotional support and joy to our veterans."  

 

The MyndVR program will be implemented first with the residents staying at the Murfreesboro Tennessee State Veterans Home, with the goal to launch to the other three existing TSVH facilities soon. Select TSVH staff members have gone through a training program with the MyndVR team to ensure they are familiar with the technology and proper safety and hygiene protocols are in place. 

 

TSVH offers rehabilitative and therapy services, long-term, short-term and skilled nursing care for honorably discharged veterans, veteran spouses and Gold Star parents.


TSVH Executive Offices are located in Murfreesboro and all facilities are governed by the Tennessee State Veterans Homes Board.




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