Monthly Archives: October 2015

Virtual therapies treating real world trauma (incl. audio)


“Created at the University of Southern California’s Medical Virtual Reality Lab, SimCoach is just one of several initiatives the lab has pioneered for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

‘The safe environment really is the idea of giving people opportunities to interact with this content, either in a therapy context or in private,’ says Skip Rizzo, the lab’s director and a clinical psychologist.

‘It’s totally confidential, there’s no tracking, there’s no monitoring of the system, people can ask this virtual agent questions about post-traumatic stress. The agent can ask them questions about the types of symptoms that they are experiencing and give a little feedback as to how difficult it might be for them.”

In another form of exposure therapy pioneered by Dr Rizzo and his team, a software system called Bravemind provides a sophisticated, lifelike virtual reality environment for helping patients revisit the scene of trauma.”

By Antony Funnell at ABC Radio Nation

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Affordable Virtual Reality Opens New Worlds For People With Disabilities


“Virtual reality is catching on as a tool in medicine. The technology has been used to treat phobias, reduce pain and even help doctors perform surgery.

Now virtual reality is being tried as a way to help people with disabilities explore the world that might be difficult or impossible in real life.

And it’s happening at a price that’s well within reach … a way to inspire people with disabilities and give them new experiences as if they are real.”


Image by Tuukka Takala and Liisa Hirvisalo – A student in a wheelchair tests out a virtual reality experience at Aalto University in Finland.

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Virtual reality might relieve symptoms of cancer treatment


“The next great frontier in improving cancer treatment might be only a few clicks away.

A new paper by Antonio Giordano, director of Sbarro Health Research Organization and professor of biology at Temple, examines the existing literature on virtual reality and its use in cancer care.

All 19 studies Giordano examined show that immersing patients in virtual reality scenarios can help reduce stress in patients during treatment.

The paper concludes that in all the reviewed research, “virtual reality improved patients’ emotional well-being and diminished their cancer-related psychological symptoms.”

By Elisa Ludwig at Temple University

Image: Joseph V. Labolito

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Land a job with help from virtual reality (video & audio)

“Albert “Skip” Rizzo is a pioneer in virtual technology. His newest program is the the Virtual Interactive Training Agent, or VITA.

It was developed by the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, in partnership with the Dan Marino Foundation.

For people on the autism spectrum, Rizzo says, job interviews can be particularly daunting.

VITA helps people practice questions with a virtual interviewer.


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Virtual Reality as a Therapy Tool

“Doctors say immersing patients in simulated situations helps them confront their worst fears.

Virtual-reality headsets have long been thought of as the ultimate gaming accessory. Now, therapists increasingly are embracing them as an effective therapeutic tool.

The use of immersive virtual reality in mental-health treatment—placing patients in various simulated situations designed to help them deal with their difficulties—has been booming over the past two decades.

“Virtual reality offers the promise of a fundamentally new way to treat certain psychiatric disorders,” says Elias Aboujaoude, a Stanford University psychiatrist.”


By AMY WESTERVELT at The Wall Street Journal.

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