Physiotherapy - Research Publications

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    The Highway of Life: Social Virtual Reality as a Reminiscence Tool
    Baker, SJ ; Waycott, J ; Warburton, J ; Batchelor, F (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2020-01-01)
    A large body of research demonstrates the positive impact that reminiscence activities can have on older adult wellbeing. Within this space, researchers have begun to explore how virtual reality (VR) technology might be used as a reminiscence tool. The immersive characteristics of VR could aid reminiscence by giving the sense of being fully present in a virtual environment that evokes the time being explored in the reminiscence session. However, to date, research into the use of VR as a reminiscence tool has overwhelmingly focussed on static environments that can only be viewed by a single user. This paper reports on a first-of-its-kind research project that used social VR (multiple users co-present in a single virtual environment), and 3D representations of personal artifacts (such as, photographs and recorded anecdotes), to allow a group of older adults to reminisce about their school experiences. Sixteen older adults aged 70-81 participated in a four-month user study, meeting in groups with a facilitator in a social virtual world called the Highway of Life. Results demonstrate how the social experience, tailored environment, and personal artifacts that were features of the social VR environment allowed the older adults to collaboratively reminisce about their school days. We conclude by considering the benefits and challenges associated with using social VR as a reminiscence tool with older adults.
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    Combatting social isolation and increasing social participation of older adults through the use of technology: A systematic review of existing evidence
    Baker, S ; Warburton, J ; Waycott, J ; Batchelor, F ; Thuong, H ; Dow, B ; Ozanne, E ; Vetere, F (WILEY, 2018-09-01)
    Objectives There are growing concerns that social isolation presents risks to older people's health and well‐being. Thus, the objective of the review was to explore how technology is currently being utilised to combat social isolation and increase social participation, hence improving social outcomes for older people. Methods A systematic review of the literature was conducted across the social science and human‐computer interaction databases. Results A total of 36 papers met the inclusion criteria and were analysed using a four‐step process. Findings were threefold, suggesting that: (i) technologies principally utilised social network services and touch‐screen technologies; (ii) social outcomes are often ill‐defined or not defined at all; and (iii) methodologies used to evaluate interventions were often limited and small‐scale. Conclusion Results suggest a need for studies that examine new and innovative forms of technology, evaluated with rigorous methodologies, and drawing on clear definitions about how these technologies address social isolation/participation.