A real showcase for virtual technologies

VR Symposium

Inaugural symposium of Trojans working on VR tools forhealth and rehab

Oct. 2, 2018


At the inaugural USC Virtual Technologies for Health Symposium,more than 90 Trojans from across the university convened in reallife for a day focused on virtual reality technologies and theirclinical applications for improving the health of people withdisabling conditions such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease andParkinson's disease.

During the Sept. 28 symposium at the USC Health Sciences Campus,experts from various disciplines, including rehabilitation science,engineering and neuroscience, shared their latest work on projectsapplying virtual reality tech for health and rehabilitation. Thoseprojects included multisensory feedback systems for people withParkison's disease relearning how to walk using VR environments; aplatform for 3-D visualization - rather than the average 2-Dcomputer screens in use today - for viewing neuroimaging data suchas brain scans; and the "humans" used in clinical VR programs likethose for assessing and treating military servicemember'spost-traumatic stress disorder.

With eight featured talks, live demonstrations, a poster sessionand keynote lecture by Skip Rizzo, director for medical virtualreality at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, thesymposium showcased USC's critical mass of talent in theever-evolving field.

"The breadth of expertise across our campuses puts USC in aunique position to do everything from hardware development toclinical trials within a single institution," said James Finley,assistant professor at the USC Division of Biokinesiology andPhysical Therapy.

Getting SMART with VR

The symposium was hosted by the USC SensoriMotor Assessment andRehabilitation Training in Virtual Reality, or "SMART-VR," Center,a multidisciplinary center that works on virtual realityinterventions for neurorehabilitation. The SMART-VR Center is acollaboration between faculty from the Division of Biokinesiologyand Physical Therapy, the USC Chan Division of Occupational Scienceand Occupational Therapy and the Keck School of Medicine of USC'sDepartment of Neurology.

"People are doing truly exceptional work across so many areas ofhealth - across pain management, motor rehabilitation, aging andcognition and more," said Sook-Lei Liew, assistant professor in theUSC Chan Division and the USC Division of Biokinesiology andPhysical Therapy, who, along with Finley, is a co-director of theSMART-VR Center.

Liew is developing a brain-computer interface known as"Rehabilitation Environment Using the Integration ofNeuromuscular-based Virtual Enhancements for Neural Training," or"REINVENT," for more efficient, customized rehabilitation afterstroke, which is one of today's leading causes of long-term adultdisability.

"The exciting thing is that we are all working hard on differentfacets of bringing VR into the clinic and that gives us a lot ofpotential to create the best products across many areas."

Posted 10.3.2018