PLANO -- The residents at The Legacy at Willow Bend have been busy the last month. The men and women of the retirement community have gone deep sea diving, out to jazz clubs and even inside some of the most famous paintings in the world, all courtesy of virtual reality.
Mynd VR is a Dallas-based company that creates virtual reality content specifically for seniors. Shawn Wiora is a co-founder and he says "VR" is much more than entertainment. During a trial run at The Legacy, his team saw health benefits from people with Parkinson's Alzheimer's and residents like George Rothkopf with vision problems.
"When I walk past you in the hallway, I can see a figure, but I can't make out who it is," Rothkopf said.
For years, Rothkopf has struggled with vision because of macular degeneration. He tried the VR glasses, and the content allowed him to see clearly for the first time in years.
"I think this could help a lot of people like me, and others like people with memory issues," Rothkopf said.
Mynd VR's founder's presented their findings to business leaders at a startup meeting in Dallas Wednesday. Wiora says his goal is to take this technology as far as possible to help as many seniors as he can.
"It's a booming population and seniors' children are interested too because they want to take care of their loved ones," Wiora said.
Mynd VR creates the content and uses glasses made by different technology companies. Mynd is working with universities in the Dallas area to study and research the effects of virtual reality on cognitive conditions prevalent in aging populations.
Their staff has also taken this outside Texas, traveling across the country working with different senior groups to address their needs. When they went to rural Nebraska, they created programs dealing with farms and agriculture to remind the men and women their of their earlier lives.
"There are a lot of tears when people see something or recall a memory they couldn't before. This work means something," Wiora said.
The staff at Legacy say they were happy to bring the trial to their residents and are always looking at new ways to improve a quality of life. As for the residents who participated, they say the potential to help other seniors is huge.