Albert “Skip” Rizzo

Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 4:00pm to 6:30pm

“Is Clinical Virtual Reality Ready for Primetime?”

Since the mid-1990s, a significant scientific literature has evolved regarding the outcomes from the use of what we now refer to as Clinical Virtual Reality (VR). This use of VR simulation technology has produced encouraging results when applied to address cognitive, psychological, motor, and functional impairments across a wide range of clinical health conditions. This presentation addresses the question, “Is Clinical VR Ready for Primetime?” After a brief description of the various forms of VR technology, I will discuss the trajectory of Clinical VR over the last 20 years and summarize the basic assets that VR offers for creating clinical applications. The discussion then addresses the question of readiness in terms of the theoretical basis for Clinical VR assets, the research to date, the pragmatic factors regarding availability, usability, and costs of Clinical VR content/systems, and the ethical issues for the safe use of VR with clinical populations. While there is still much research needed to advance the science in this area, I will make the case that Clinical VR applications will become indispensable tools in the toolbox of healthcare researchers and practitioners and will only grow in relevance and popularity in the near future.
* The learner will be able to describe the definition of Virtual Reality (VR) and the different ways that people can engage and interact with VR environments.
* The learner will be able to explain the specific rationales for the use of VR for assessment and intervention across a wide range of clinical disorders (i.e., ADHD, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, Phobias, Stroke, addictions, etc.). Additionally, the learner will understand the theoretical and research support for the use of VR in clinical populations.
* The learner will be able to understand the relevant issues involved in the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of virtual environments for use in clinical assessment and intervention. The ethical concerns in the areas will be discussed along with a view to the pragmatic issues for wide scale adoption of VR in the healthcare domain.
This talk will be helpful for people who are just now learning about VR and want to know how it can be usefully applied in the pro-social area of healthcare, beyond just gaming and entertainment applications. Experts in either VR or healthcare will get an informed perspective on the state of the field moving into the future.
Psychologist Skip Rizzo conducts research on the design, development and evaluation of virtual reality (VR) systems targeting the areas of clinical assessment, treatment rehabilitation and resilience. This work spans the domains of psychological, cognitive and motor functioning in both healthy and clinical populations. Rizzo is working with a team that is creating artificially intelligent virtual patients that clinicians can use to practice skills required for challenging clinical interviews and diagnostic assessments. His cognitive work has addressed the use of VR applications to test and train attention, memory, visuospatial abilities and executive function. In the motor domain, he has developed VR game systems to address physical rehabilitation post stroke and traumatic brain injury and for prosthetic use training. He is currently designing VR scenarios to address social and vocational interaction in persons with autistic spectrum disorder and examining the use of VR applications for training emotional coping skills with the aim of preparing service members for the stresses of combat.


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