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James Thomas to discuss “Virtual Reality in Rehabilitation” at March 23 Science Café

Emily Mueting | Mar 18, 2016

James Thomas

James Thomas. Courtesy of James Thomas.

Virtual reality takes gamers into new worlds, immersing them both visually and audibly. But if you think virtual reality is just for gamers, think again. This technology, which has been used for everything from rides at Disneyland to training Air Force pilots, is being studied in many neuroscience labs, including that of Ohio University Professor James Thomas.

Thomas and his colleagues have designed virtual reality games to study impaired movement due to pain and associated health conditions. For example, virtual dodgeball requires the player to move their back in order to successfully block virtual balls thrown at their avatar. This encourages patients with low back pain to extend their range of motion while playing a fun, interactive and engaging game.

Thomas explains that there are many potential benefits of working with virtual reality as a form of rehabilitation.

“There is tremendous potential for these immersive systems to provide novel treatments to patients with problems ranging from balance disorders to low back pain,” he said.

Join Thomas, professor of physical therapy, for his talk about the use of virtual reality in healthcare at his Science Café, “Virtual Reality in Rehabilitation,” at 5 p.m. on Wed., March 23 in the Baker Center Front Room.

Science Cafés are part of Ohio University’s Café Series, Wednesdays at the Baker Center Front Room. The series provides a venue for students to informally share their interests during a conversational exchange with faculty presenters, staff and the Athens community. Free coffee is offered to the first 50 attendees, and participants who ask questions will win a free t-shirt.

The series is supported by the Ohio University Research Division and Sigma Xi.

Learn more! Watch the new 1-minute Café Series video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8IBC6nS4Ag

For a link to the live stream of the event and for a full schedule of spring semester speakers, visit http://www.ohio.edu/sciencecafe