ECGC 2019 Sessions

APRIL 16TH – 18TH, 2019

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The Untapped Potential of VR to Impact Health

April 17, 2019 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am

Room: 305A

By Dr. Bradley Tanner

VR holds can improve health by enhancing understanding of human biology, building problem-solving skills, and effecting change in behavior.

The talk will present 6 examples and 5 key elements to creating a VR game to impact health.
1) VR is a perfect environment to visualize complicated 3D structures like the human brain. In an experience where the player is inside the brain, a player can better understand the reward system – the driver of addition and the search for pleasure. Or brain processes involved in fear, anxiety, and stroke.
2) A VR game can reinforce food selection where the player is challenged with collecting healthy food and fighting off unhealthy food. By improving food choices, food selection, and cooking skills, the VR experience can impact the alarming rates of obesity and the downstream effects of obesity including diabetes, hypertension, and obstructive sleep disorders.
3) In VR, a player can engage in scenarios mirroring those that are stressful in real-life to aid in preparation and to anticipate future challenges. VR can counter more serious anxiety including phobias and PTSD with exposure, relaxation, and mindfulness.
4) Players can practice decision-making and build confidence in their ability to overcome challenges or to identify risky actions where the potential pay off is not worth the risk.
5) VR offers an opportunity to distract the player and counter pain from dental procedures or similar painful situations
6) The final example will show how in VR a player can see oneself differently and thus assist with amputee rehabilitation or correcting misperceptions of body image countered by virtual self-imaging.

A successful VR Game to impact health should provide 5 key elements:
1) Learner control and self-determination to allow the user to navigate the VR environment and identify personally relevant factors and strategies.
2) Choices, decision-making opportunities (e.g., quick, medium, slow), feedback, levels of improvement, and the potential for success/mastery demonstration enable health-related impact.
3) Successful VR games utilize experiential learning to enhance self-expression and creativity and drive intrinsic motivation to address unfamiliar topics and instill skills and understanding, empowerment, and confidence necessary for a lifestyle change and sustained effort during treatment.
4) Role-playing in VR engages the player in a cycle of practicing change by initial self-reflection, taking action, and then engaging in post-action reflection and planning that promotes longer-term real-world behavioral change.
5) Immersion instills flow or a sense of timelessness and focuses on the game at hand to optimize cognitive load and match skills to challenge.


April 17, 2019
9:00 am - 10:00 am
Event Category:


Education, Serious Games, Virtual Reality
Brad Tanner