Jacquelyn Ford Morie, Eric Chance and Dinesh Rajpurohit: “Virtual Worlds and Avatars as the New Frontier of Telehealth Care”

September 28, 2012 | Brussels, Belgium

Speaker: Jacquelyn Ford Morie, Eric Chance and Dinesh Rajpurohit
Host: The 17th Annual CyberPsychology & CyberTherapy Conference

Abstract: We are entering a new age where people routinely visit, inhabit, play in and learn within virtual worlds (VWs). One in eight people worldwide are VW participants, according to the latest 2011 figures from KZERO [1]. VWs are also emerging as a new and advanced form of telehealth care delivery. In addition to existing telehealth care advantages, VWs feature three powerful affordances that can benefit a wide range of physical and psychological issues. First, the highly social nature of VWs encourages social networking and the formation of essential support groups. Secondly, the type of spaces that have been proven in the physical world to promote psychological health and well-being can be virtually recreated. Finally, research suggests that embodied avatar representation within VWs can affect users psychologically and physically. These three aspects of VWs can be leveraged for enhanced patient-client interactions, spaces that promote healing and positive responses, and avatar activities that transfer real benefits from the virtual to the physical world. This paper explains the mounting evidence behind these claims and provides examples of VWs as an innovative and compelling form of telehealth care destined to become commonplace in the future.