Is Clinical Virtual Reality Ready for Prime Time?
Presented by Albert “Skip” Rizzo, PhD
October 4th from 7:00-8:30pm in Gannett Auditorium
Co-sponsored by Psychology, Neuroscience, Math, Computer Science, LEDS, and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty

Since the mid-1990s, a significant scientific literature has evolved regarding the outcomes from the use of what we now refer to as Clinical Virtual Reality (VR). This use of VR simulation technology has produced encouraging results when applied to address cognitive, psychological, motor, and functional impairments across a wide range of clinical health conditions. This presentation addresses the question, “Is Clinical VR Ready for Primetime?” After a brief description of the various forms of VR technology, I will discuss the trajectory of Clinical VR over the last 20 years and summarize the basic assets that VR offers for creating clinical applications. The discussion then addresses the question of readiness in terms of the theoretical basis for Clinical VR assets, the research to date, the pragmatic factors regarding availability, usability, and costs of Clinical VR content/systems, and the ethical issues for the safe use of VR with clinical populations. While there is still much research needed to advance the science in this area, I will make the case that Clinical VR applications will become indispensable tools in the toolbox of healthcare researchers and practitioners and will only grow in relevance and popularity in the near future.


  • The learner will be able to describe the definition of Virtual Reality (VR) and the different ways that people can engage and interact with VR environments.
  • The learner will be able to explain the specific rationales for the use of VR for assessment and intervention across a wide range of clinical disorders (i.e., ADHD, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, Phobias, Stroke, addictions, etc.). Additionally, the learner will understand the theoretical and research support for the use of VR in clinical populations.
  • The learner will be able to understand the relevant issues involved in the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of virtual environments for use in clinical assessment and intervention. The ethical concerns in the areas will be discussed along with a view to the pragmatic issues for wide scale adoption of VR in the healthcare domain.

This talk will be helpful for people who are just now learning about VR and want to know how it can be usefully applied in the pro-social area of healthcare, beyond just gaming and entertainment applications. Experts in either VR or healthcare will get an informed perspective on the state of the field moving into the future.