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Professor Albert "Skip" Rizzo, Medical Virtual Reality Institute for Creative Technologies, University of Southern California


Clinical Virtual Reality: A Brief Review of the Future!


Owheo G34 - 1:00 pm, Friday 7 April


Virtual reality (VR) has undergone a transition in the past 20 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 (i.e., computation speed and power, graphics and image rendering technology, display systems, interface devices, immersive audio, haptics tools, tracking, intelligent agents, and authoring software) have supported development resulting in more powerful, low-cost PC and Mobile device-driven 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.

This presentation will provide an introduction to the many forms of Virtual Reality that have been applied across a diverse range of clinical conditions and research questions. This will include a brief overview of the development and application of VR to deliver Exposure Therapy for anxiety disorders and PTSD with military personnel, followed by a discussion of the R&D underlying various research and clinical use cases of VR for cognitive and motor assessment/rehabilitation. The focus will then shift to work with intelligent Virtual Humans agents that can engage real human users in a credible fashion. This has driven their use as "Virtual Patients" for clinical training of novice healthcare providers, experiential social training with persons on the Autism Spectrum, and as online healthcare support guides. The importance of user centered design in support of the iterative development of these systems will be underscored throughout this presentation.

About the Speaker:

Albert "Skip" Rizzo is a clinical psychologist and Director of Medical Virtual Reality at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. He is also a Research Professor with the USC Dept. of Psychiatry and at the USC Davis School of Gerontology. Over the last 20 years, Rizzo has conducted research on the design, development and evaluation of Virtual Reality systems targeting the areas of clinical assessment, treatment and rehabilitation across the domains of psychological, cognitive and motor functioning in both healthy and clinical populations. This work has focused on PTSD, TBI, Autism, ADHD, Alzheimer's disease, stroke and other clinical conditions. In spite of the diversity of these clinical R&D areas, the common thread that drives all of his work with digital technologies involves the study of how interactive and immersive Virtual Reality simulations can be usefully applied to address human healthcare needs beyond what is possible with traditional 20th Century tools and methods. 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.

Last modified: Tuesday, 04-Apr-2017 14:11:17 NZST

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