Dementia is one of the increasing problems of modern societies. The immediate cure is not a possible solution, at least at the moment, but science has found a number of new ways to retard and under specific conditions to halt its development. A potential, and constantly evolving scientific field is the use of Computerized Cognitive Rehabilitation (CCR) and Virtual Environments (Vr.E). According to the existing literature, subjecting patients to various neuro-rehabilitative conditions within 3D virtual environments, allows them to obtain significant therapeutic benefits in which both transferability and durations over time are observed, in relation to the training period of the intervention. In the present study we examine whether "Serious Games (SGs)" – (learning and rehabilitating games in virtual and augmented reality) – have utilitarian value in the field of cognitive neurorehabilitation, concerned with demented population. For research purposes, we have conducted a number of case studies, based on 10 elderly patients, suffering from moderate or mild severity impairment of higher cortical functions, attributed to various types of dementias (Vascular, Alzheimer’s disease, DLB dementia and mixed dementia). Each participant underwent rehabilitative intervention through our SG for a total of 10 hours within 4–5 weeks period. At the end of the cognitive rehabilitation program, patients' performance was assessed based in standard neuropsychological tests (measuring: working memory, memory retention, attention, problem solving, rigid thinking and executive function) and the results were compared with measurements taken before, during, and at the end of the intervention. Our experimental hypothesis states that there will be a significant difference between the results of cognitive performance of the patients between the pre- and post- rehabilitative period, consequential of the Interactive Computer-based Training (ICT). In conclusion, a review and brief analysis of the relevant literature was carried out in order to investigate the specification of potentially beneficial variables and to appreciate as much as possible the multifactorial causes related to this particular rehabilitation method of the corresponding suffering population. The ultimate purpose of our research is the design and creation of a prospective interactive cognitive rehabilitation training SG, able to combine both the neuro-rehabilitative character of the controlled virtual environment, as well as the potential realism that is also attributed to it (factual validity under high experimental realism). The results showed a relative improvement in the total of the cognitive variables under consideration after the completion of the neuro-rehabilitative program, while a parallel review of the literature on the subject revealed methodological considerations similar to those of the present study.

Key words: Dementia, serious games, neurorehabilitation, virtual environments, Interactive Computer Training.

Th. Fasilis, P. Patrikelis, A. Siatouni, A. Alexoudi, A. Veretzioti,L. Zachou, S.-St. Gatzonis (page 42)

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