USC Researcher Honored for Virtual Reality Innovations

Published: July 21, 2009
Category: News

ICT research scientist Albert “Skip” Rizzo was selected as the first ever winner of the Intellectual Leadership Award established by the Los Angeles Chapter of Mensa to recognize, honor and celebrate the region’s leaders in research and innovation.
Rizzo, who is also a research professor at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and the department of psychiatry at the USC Keck School of Medicine, has developed a virtual reality-based therapy for treating PTSD in returning soldiers. The system is currently in use at over 30 hospitals and clinics throughout the country and has shown promise in ongoing clinical trials. He is also researching other uses for virtual reality-based therapies, including for autism, attention deficit disorder and motor rehabilitation following stroke and TBI.
“Skip Rizzo was chosen as our 2009 honoree because his research represents an exciting new frontier using the latest technology to help people not only in the therapeutic process once they have developed a psychological need, but in preventing conditions such as PTSD in our warriors by giving them a realistic idea of what they will face before they go into war,” said Jonathan Carr, director of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of Mensa. “For these reasons, Skip Rizzo is clearly an intellectual leader in our community and deserves recognition and praise.”
Rizzo was presented with his award at a July 19 reception at the Fairmont Miramar hotel in Santa Monica, where he spoke and gave a live demonstration of virtual reality therapy.
“The use of VR simulation technology is one of a wave of new technologies, that if thoughtfully evolved from both a scientific and clinical perspective, will stand to revolutionize clinical care as we move into 21st Century,” Rizzo said. “I would also like to thank the Mensa members for this recognition and for their enthusiastic and informed curiousity about the research described at the ceremony”