Using Virtual Reality to Offer Vocational Training to Autistic Individuals

A team of researchers developed a novel method to assist individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using virtual reality. The team proposed VR-based solutions that can help ASD sufferers in common functioning such as navigation of air travel. In addition, the researchers claim performing several other important functions with the help of the new technology. Virtual reality interventions have played a crucial role in facilitating several tasks across multiple industries. Meanwhile, the relevance of VR solutions in healthcare is amongst the most interesting areas of research. The findings and assertions of the researchers are published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking journal. The article is titled “Virtual Reality Air Travel Training with Children on the Autism Spectrum: A Preliminary Report”.

 Training via Virtual Reality Experiences

 The researchers focused on delivering a virtual reality experience of air travel to children with ASD. Furthermore, they delivered such an intervention once in a week for three weeks. In the fourth week, real-world experience of air travel given to children with visit to an actual airport. The research, along with the parents, observed improvements in the cognitive abilities of children in the fourth week. Besides, the children were also able to navigate through the various checkpoints across the real-world airport. Meanwhile, previous research lines suggest cognitive improvements in individuals exposed to multimedia training modes.

 Scope for Future Research

 Use of video and virtual reality has been an important part of vocational training for individuals with ASD. Virtual reality tools help in reducing the stigma associated with the autism spectrum disorder. Some of the key areas of application of virtual reality techniques are in diagnosing and controlling sensory overload symptoms. The research opens new avenues for treatment for autistic individuals.

Researchers Claim People Absorb Information Better with Virtual Reality

A group of researchers from the University of Maryland have come up with a comprehensive analysis on how virtual reality (VR) can enable humans to consume information more efficiently, much more than desktop computers. While the concept of virtual reality has so far remained confined for the domains of entertainment and gaming, and continues to grow, the consistent harnessing of the technology is paving way to its application across different industries such as education, medicine, and employee training.

The trick behind it is overcoming the limitations of two dimensional nature of desktops or hand-held tablets.

The study detected that volunteers remembered information much better in an immersive environments, encouraging potential of finding new pathways for improvements in the training and educational programs. For this study, the team of researchers utilized the concept of memory palace, wherein volunteers were asked to recall objects or items which were placed at an imaginary location such as within a building or town. Something that is referred to as spatial mnemonic encoding, which has been in use for several decades, has come to the fore as an advantage for human brain.

The group of volunteers, 40 of them and mostly from UMD campus, had little to no idea regarding the virtual reality. The researchers divided them into two groups, with one viewing information first via head mounted VR display and then the desktop while the other group did the vice versa. It was observed that desktop group used mouse to shift their viewpoints whereas VR group merely had to move their heads sideways and up and down.

Pediatric Hospitals to Emerge as Key Users of Virtual Reality Tools

Virtual reality (VR) has emerged as a popular technology that has an ever-expanding array of applications including clinical trials. The technology at present finds its usage in pediatric healthcare centers. Compulsory yet distressing and painful medical procedures are experienced by children every day. Only a handful of non-pharmaceutical involvements have been successful in managing that anxiety and pain. Virtual reality has since emerged as one such tool to address these issues.

Study Successfully Reveals Use of VR in Pain Management

A study was recently undertaken by the researchers of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to find out if virtual reality (VR) can be used effectively in managing pain while drawing blood. The results of the study as published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology reveal that VR substantially diminishes the perception of severe pain, distress, and anxiety for the patients and their parents alike.

Jeffrey I. Gold, the Director of the department of Pediatric Pain Management Clinic, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles opined that the very engaging nature of VR technology has the capability of acting as a preventive intervention, thereby subsequently reducing the pain associated with the process of drawing blood. Patients aged between 10 and 21 years, their caregivers, and the phlebotomist of the outpatient blood draw unit were used for the study.

With the substantially rising concern about the problematic use of opioid, nan-pharmaceutical inventions that are based on evidence are likely to result in the use of VR for the management of pain at the time of specific medical procedures thereby reducing the need for narcotics.