oVRcome announces pilot program with NHS for autistic individuals

New Zealand-based virtual reality and cognitive behavioral therapy company oVRcome announced it signed an international contract with the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) to help autistic individuals navigate hospital environments and social interactions.
oVRcome, launched in 2021, utilizes a smartphone and a headset to deliver exposure therapy to adults and children with numerous conditions, including phobias, social anxiety, panic disorder and other ailments. 
Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps patients build up their tolerance to their specific phobias through short bursts of exposure. 
The U.K.-based pilot program aims to reduce the appointment cancellation rate among individuals on the autism spectrum by helping them navigate hospital and social settings via oVRcome’s exposure therapy platform. 
The program will immerse autistic individuals in virtual environments, complete with scripted videos showing ways of behaving in social settings so that they can practice navigating these environments and feel more comfortable.  
Up to a hundred individuals will participate in the pilot program, scheduled to begin in August. 
“What we know firsthand is that members of the autistic community experience anxiety around accessing medical services and environments. Often, this anxiety leads to the cancellation of appointments, with many of these being essential to the individual’s health and wellbeing,” Adam Hutchinson, founder of oVRcome, told MobiHealthNews. 
“Our goal is to reduce this anxiety through customized virtual reality exposure therapy co-designed with members of the community. This is accessed via the oVRcome smartphone app, with a clinician being able to connect to the VR session remotely via our clinician portal.”
In 2022, oVRcome released the results of a randomized, controlled trial performed in the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago. The study aimed to reduce the symptoms of common phobias, including a fear of flying, heights, needles, spiders and dogs. 
Based on findings, which were published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, the app-based CBT program alleviated symptoms of phobias by 75% among participants after six weeks of treatment. 
Barbara Rothbaum of Emory University is credited as being the inventor of virtual reality exposure therapy, which is now used by numerous researchers globally, including at Stanford University’s Virtual Reality and Immersive Technology (VR-IT) lab, the Applied Technology for Neuro-Psychology Laboratory (ATN-P Lab) at Istituto Auxologico Italiano, in Italy, and the University of Barcelona.
Another company using VR to teach neurodiverse individuals behavioral, social and life skills is Floreo. It recently received a strategic investment from Cleveland Clinic and acquired Autism EyesTM, an autism-focused diagnostics and assessment company developed by Cleveland Clinic Innovations. 


Explore more

The Stunning Pendulum Drawings of Swiss Healer and Artist Emma Kunz – The Marginalian

The Stunning Pendulum Drawings of Swiss Healer and Artist Emma Kunz...

Emma Kunz (May 23, 1892–January 16, 1963) was forty-six and the world was aflame with war when she became an artist. She had worked...

Can Dry Eyes Cause Blindness?

Dry eyes, medically known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, aren’t just a fleeting discomfort; it’s a persistent issue that occurs when tears fail to provide adequate...

Why Do I Feel Nauseous?

Are you curious why you feel nauseous? Discover common causes of nausea, helpful tips on how to stop feeling nauseous, and even when to...
Simplified Sleep Solutions for Busy Women: Summertime Bedtime Rituals

Simplified Sleep Solutions for Busy Women: Summertime Bedtime Rituals

For many busy women, the idea of achieving a restful night’s sleep can feel like a distant dream. Juggling work, family, and personal commitments...
Why is my vagina dry during sex?

Why is my vagina dry during sex?

If you’re too embarrassed to ask your doctor (or anyone) the question:...
Inside the Factory Supplying Half of Africa’s Syringes

Inside the Factory Supplying Half of Africa’s Syringes

On the stunning Kenyan coast, about halfway between 15th-century ruins and the vibrant city of Mombasa, a small factory is helping to achieve one...

Dental SEO versus PPC: choosing the best strategy for your dental...

Shaz Memon weights up the pros and cons of dental SEO versus pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to work out which digital marketing model is best...
My Favorite Memorial Day Sales on Tablets

My Favorite Memorial Day Sales on Tablets

Today is Memorial Day, and many retailers are offering deals on laptops, TVs, headphones, Bluetooth speakers, smartphones, and tablets. If you want a new...