Pre-recorded Sessions: From 4 December 2020 | Live Sessions: 10 – 13 December 2020

4 – 13 December 2020


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Date: Sunday, December 13th
Time: 10:00am - 11:00am
Venue: Main Room

Clinical Virtual Reality: Seven Ways that Virtual Reality Will Change the World of Mental Healthcare

Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Institute for Creative Technologies Medical VR Lab, University of Southern California, United States of America

Abstract: Virtual reality (VR) has undergone a transition in the past 25 years that has taken it from the realm of expensive toy and into that of functional technology. Revolutionary advances in the underlying VR enabling technologies have supported development resulting in more powerful, low-cost VR systems. Such advances in technological “prowess” and accessibility have provided the hardware platforms needed for the conduct of human clinical treatment and research within more usable, useful, and lower cost VR systems. Significant scientific literature has also 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 will focus on seven ways that Clinical VR has already, and will continue to change the world of Mental Healthcare. After a short introduction of Clinical VR, Skip will cover the theory, research, and application of VR systems that help to overcome fear, recover from traumatic experiences, experience less pain, rehabilitate motor function, exercise and relax, test and train cognitive function, and benefit from virtual human interaction. The clinical health conditions that benefit from these applications include patients with Anxiety Disorders, Depression, PTSD, Acute/Chronic Pain, TBI, Autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, social skill challenges, and other clinical conditions. In each application area, Skip will present the trajectory of Clinical VR over the last 25 years and address the question of whether Clinical VR is ready for Primetime. This will focus on the question of readiness regarding the theoretical basis for Clinical VR applications, the scientific research to date, and the pragmatic factors regarding availability, usability, and costs of Clinical VR content/systems. Skip will delve into future trends that are expected to continue to will grow in relevance and popularity in the near future as the technology continues to evolve.

Speaker(s) Bio:
Albert “Skip” Rizzo is a Clinical and Neuro- Psychologist, and Director of the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies Medical VR Lab. He is also a research professor in both the USC Dept. of Psychiatry and in the School of Gerontology. Skip conducts research on the design, development and evaluation of VR systems targeting the areas of clinical assessment, treatment and rehabilitation. In the psychological domain, he has directed the development/implementation of the Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan VR exposure therapy system for combat-related PTSD and is involved in translating these simulation assets for PTSD assessment and prevention (stress resilience). His cognitive work has addressed the use of VR applications to test and train cognitive functioning. In the motor domain, he develops VR game-based applications to promote rehabilitation in persons with CNS dysfunction (e.g., stroke and TBI). He is also involved in the creation of artificially intelligent virtual human patients for clinical training and for creating online virtual human healthcare guides for breaking down barriers to care in psychological health and TBI. In 2010, he received the American Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Practice of Trauma Psychology for his R&D work on VR exposure therapy for PTS and in 2015 he received the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics “Pioneer in Medicine” award. He recently received American Psychological Association Society for Military Psychology (Division 19) Presidential Citation (2019) for his contributions to the study and treatment of PTSD using Virtual Reality. In his spare time, he plays rugby, listens to music, rides his motorcycle and thinks about new ways that VR can have a positive impact on clinical care by dragging the field of psychology, kickin’ and screamin’, into the 21st Century.