International Association of CyberPsychology, Training, and Rehabilitation

The Potential for Virtual Reality to Improve Health Care

By Prof. Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA

…Improving the health of European citizens and increasing the
competitiveness of European health-related industries and businesses, while
addressing global health issues including emerging epidemics. Emphasis will
be put on translational research (translation of basic discoveries into clinical
applications), the development and validation of new therapies, methods for
health promotion and disease prevention, diagnostic tools and technologies,
as well as sustainable and efficient health care systems.
From the 7th Framework

Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to support and integrate the guiding themes of the European Commission’s 7th Framework while improving health and increasing the competitiveness of European technology in the international economy.

Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, President of the Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI), with offices in Brussels, Belgium, and Executive Director of the Virtual Reality Medical Center, with offices in San Diego, Palo Alto, and Los Angeles, California; is world renowned for her leadership in the field of VR. Working with European experts in the field, Dr. Wiederhold brings evidence to the European Commission on the integral role Virtual Reality (VR) must play to improve the health of European citizens and increase the competitiveness of European healthrelated industries and businesses.

Dr. Wiederhold is a licensed clinical psychologist in California and Switzerland, and has a doctorate in Clinical Health Psychology as well as national certification in both biofeedback and neurofeedback. She is a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and is president of VRHealth, a woman-owned healthcare company. In addition, she serves on the editorial board for several renowned publications, including CyberPsychology & Behavior Journal, the International Journal of Virtual Reality, and Emerging Communication, a book series by IOS Press. She also serves on the advisory board for the International Child Art Foundation, and the advisory committee for the California Science Center’s exhibit on scientific and cultural aspects of fear.

Dr. Wiederhold serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Interactive Media Institute (IMI) and the Interactive Media Institute-Europe (IMI-E), non-profit organizations dedicated to furthering the application of advanced technologies for patient care. Under IMI, she began the first VR and behavioral healthcare symposium at the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality (MMVR) conference, growing this into an independent International Conference, CyberTherapy, now in its 12th year. CyberTherapy brings together researchers, clinicians and funders to share and discuss the growing field of CyberTherapy. This conference was originally a specialized symposium at the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality Conference featuring presentations that dealt primarily with conceptual matters and future possibilities. The symposium has continued to grow over the years in both size and scientific evidence and is now an independent three-day conference. The 10th annual CyberTherapy Conference, held in June 2005 in Basel Switzerland, highlighted the 3 largest program ever presented on controlled clinical trials of virtual reality and other cuttingedge technologies in the areas of mental health, rehabilitation, disabilities, training, and education. It involved representatives from 19 countries, reflecting its truly international character. In 2006, the Conference attracted over 200 attendees to Gatineau, Canada.

Dr. Wiederhold is recognized as an international leader in the treatment of anxiety, panic and phobias with virtual reality exposure and cognitive-behavioral therapy, and has completed over 5,000 virtual reality therapy sessions. In 2004 and 2005, Dr. Wiederhold was invited to address the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. as one of the world’s leading specialists in the field of VR treatment for medical illness. In addition, she has shared her insights as an invited speaker in Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland on the topic of technology in healthcare.

Dr. Wiederhold currently has funded programs from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, NIH, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center in addition to serving as an unpaid consultant on several current research projects in Europe and Korea.

Dr. Wiederhold is currently completing her ninth book and has over 100 publications. Her current project, a collaboration with Dr. Giuseppe Riva of Milan, Italy, and Spanish researchers Rosa Banos and Cristina Botella, on their important work with the application of VR in the treatment of eating disorders and obesity, will help to form the basis for a European network for translational research on healthcare applications of VR technology.

To read more, please download the following document.

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