Approximately 5 percent of the global population lives with a significantly reduced ability to smell, and an estimated 13.3 million Americans report living with some type of smell dysfunction. As the pandemic continues, this number is still increasing.
One of the obvious symptoms of many covid-19 patients is loss of smell. Although most people's sense of smell recovered after COVID-19, a large number of people still lack sense of smell. "In most cases, smell loss is temporary, but it can take months or even years to recover,” said Dr. Tran Locke, assistant professor of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at Baylor College of Medicine “If you have any type of smell at all, it's a sign that your olfactory nerve is still working."
For these patients, how to effectively carry out olfactory rehabilitation training is a difficult challenge. Existing olfactory training is to allow patients to repeatedly smell essential oils or spices, so that they can recall memories of the smell in their previous lives. The training usually needs to last 4-6 months. Patients are advised to train twice a day, morning and evening, with each smell for about 20 seconds to achieve the best effect. There are many flavors of essential oils currently used, including apple, lemon, coffee, rose, lavender, eucalyptus and so on.
Patients are very unfamiliar with these once-familiar smells, and they need to be very focused on recalling how these smells were before.
“When you smell a rose scent, your characterization may be different than before you had the smell loss,” according to Dr. Sunthosh Sivam, assistant professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at Baylor. “You're relearning what a rose smells like with your new smelling status. I talk with my patients about building a new smell vocabulary."
But in the existing olfactory training, the only aid to the patient's recall is the name of the fragrance on the essential oil bottle. This does not help them to recall their previous experience. To a certain extent, we can only rely on the patient's own efforts to make the brain connect this taste to a certain object. If we can create some scent-related VR scenes and experiences, patients can recover better.
Here we launched Smell Revived. This product consists of a training pod, essential oil filling tablets and the corresponding VR system. Patients can buy their favorite essential oil filling tablets online to refill their training pod. The pod is very light and can be held by hand or worn on the collar.
This product supports connection with a variety of VR headset devices. Users only need to pair devices via Bluetooth. For those who do not have a VR headset at home, they can use the mobile phone playback environment and wear google cardboard to experience it. The price of google cardboard starts at $10.
In the VR system, users have their own private training accounts. For each scent, we designed a variety of different interactive environments to stimulate the user's brain to connect to the sense of smell. At the same time, according to the memory curve, we will help patients gradually review the tastes and scenes they have experienced before to record their recovery. In the "Dashboard" page, patients can monitor their training time for each scent, total training time, correct rate in review challenges, and so on.
In virtual reality, they can focus very much on the current scent training without being disturbed by the external environment. When they picked up a handful of coffee beans and heard the sound of grinding beans and making coffee in their ears, the process of recalling the smell of coffee would not be so boring and difficult. There are many kinds of essential oils for olfactory training, and it is difficult for patients to find the relevant items of each choice at home to stimulate memories. The virtual environment helps them quickly review a variety of scent scenes.