Researchers believe virtual reality device could help to monitor schizophrenia

A new study suggests that a virtual reality (VR) game could have the potential to detect and monitor symptoms of schizophrenia in its users.

The research, which was carried out at Exeter University and recently published in NPJ Schizophrenia, observed the ability of several patients to copy, move or socially interact with a 3D image.

After monitoring each users’ movements and reactions closely, and comparing the results to ‘movement blueprints’ for people with schizophrenia, researchers believe that they are one step closer to accurately diagnosing and monitoring schizophrenia patients using VR.

Researchers have said that they also believe that VR could, in future, prove useful in detecting how well patients are reacting to different types of schizophrenia treatment.

Study lead author, Dr Piotr Slowinski, said: “Although this is still at a relatively early stage, we are confident clinical trials could reveal the potential of the mirror test to produce a reliable, adaptable and, crucially, affordable, method for diagnosing and monitoring treatment of schizophrenia in patients of all ages, and all stages of the condition.

“Human movement can give a fascinating and sophisticated insight into our personality traits and behavioural characteristics,” he added.