Jul 29, 2006

Virtual Reality & Convergence with Game Technology

Virtual Reality is sometimes used to treat a variety of disorders. In the future, VR applications may be affordable for wider use in education. VR and computer/video game technologies are converging- expect amazing applications within the next 3-5 years for health, education, training, and more.

Dr. Skip Rizzo, a psychologist from USC 's Institute for Creative Technologies, specializes in VR. Dr. Rizzo presented "Gaming for Health: Virtual Reality Game-Based Applications for Mental Disorders and Rehabilitation." at the University of Southern California Games Summit in October 2005. A zipped version of his PowerPoint presentation is available.
According to information from the Integrated Media Systems Center website,
"Prof. Rizzo is continuing his collaboration with IMSC investigators and described projects that integrate game technology in the areas of attention process assessment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, pain distraction for children undergoing painful medical procedures and chemotherapy,exposure therapy for returning Iraq War veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, and motor rehabilitation for persons with central nervous system dysfunction (i.e., stroke, brain injury). According to Rizzo, "the integration of game technology and experiences with virtual reality based approaches for clinical assessment, treatment and rehabilitation offers powerful options that could revolutionize standard practices in these fields."
Dr. Rizzo has been involved in The Virtual Classroom, A VR environment that assesses ADHD in children. For more information regarding the Virtual Classroom, see the full article(pdf).

There is an interesting article for students about the Virtual Classroom,
"A Classroom of the Mind", by Emily Sohn, along with related activities, in Science News for Kids.

VR TREATMENT OF ANXIETY DISORDERS
Virtually Better (from website):

"Founded in 1996, Virtually Better is known world wide as an innovator in the creation of virtual reality environments for use in the treatment of anxiety disorders such as fear of flying, fear of heights, fear of public speaking as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)... Our on-site clinic is staffed by a team of licensed clinical psychologists devoted to using cognitive-behavioral techniques (including virtual reality exposure therapy) for the treatment of various disorders in both adults and children... Virtually Better grew from the collaborative research of Barbara O. Rothbaum, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Psychiatry, and Director of Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia and Larry F. Hodges, Ph.D., formerly with the Georgia Institute of Technology, and now Professor and Chair, Department of Computer Science, University of North Carolina at Charlotte."

Related Information:
"The Virtual Reality Lab (VRlab), at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has a collection of VR demonstrations, including the use of VR for social phobia.

A large selection of fairly recent, downloadable powerpoint presentations about the use of VR can be found on the Interactive Media Institute website.

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