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Published on September 30, 2015

Experience Virtual Reality Technology Firsthand

Skip Rizzo, Virtual Reality

Experience Virtual Reality

Attend the FREE Assistive Technology Fair and experience a virtual reality simulation first hand. A presentation by "Skip" Rizzo Ph.D. will follow. Tickets to the presentation are $25 per person and $15 for students.

Register Now

After extensive work with patients suffering from traumatic brain injury, psychologist Albert "Skip" Rizzo, Ph.D., made the profound observation that game-like activities can be a great motivator in rehabilitation.

Over the past two decades that principle has led Rizzo to develop virtual reality systems to help those who face challenges connected with brain injury as well as stroke, autism, prosthetic limbs, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other health conditions.

"We want to leverage technology in a way that makes clinical care more engaging, more compelling, and more relevant for the real world," says Rizzo, who will be the lead presenter Sunday, Oct. 4, at the thought-provoking public event; Empowerment Through Medical Rehabilitation: Virtual Reality.

Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation has organized the educational event for Sunday, Oct. 4, at the Fess Parker in Santa Barbara. The day starts with an assistive technology fair from 2-5 p.m., which will give visitors a chance to experience virtual reality technology through their own eyes. That will be followed with a presentation and Q&A by Rizzo from 5-6:30 p.m., and an expert panel discussion and dinner from 7-9 p.m.

The assistive technology fair is free. Admission to the 5 p.m. presentation is just $25 per person, or $15 per student. Register online or call 805-569-8999, ext. 82143.

Those who want to attend the presentation as well as the dinner and panel discussion must reserve tickets for $250 each.

Described as "a wizard of the virtual world" by CNN, Rizzo leads a team at the University of Southern California, where he serves as associate director for medical virtual reality at the Institute for Creative Technologies.

Rizzo has developed systems for more than 50 VA facilities to treat returning US troops who suffer from PTSD and to help those facing deployment prepare emotionally and psychologically for conflict. In 2010, the American Psychological Association honored him with the Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Treatment of Trauma.

Topics at the event will also include how "virtual patients" can be used to improve job training skills and how "virtual therapists" can help treat PTSD via immersion therapy. "We can design virtual humans that are credible in how they interact, that after a couple minutes of interacting with them you forget that they're virtual," Rizzo says.

In addition to Rizzo, panelists will include:

  • Kimberly Alfano, neuropsychologist, Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Jim Blascovich, director of the Research Center for Virtual Environments at University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Chris Merkle, virtual reality participant, readjustment counseling technician and former Marine Combat Veteran
  • Charles Whitehead, virtual reality participant, lab technician at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center and musician

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Media and Public Relations Contact

Maria Zate, Manager of Public Relations

Phone: 805-879-8986

Email: mzate@sbch.org