Project Title

Parkinson Symptom Simulation in Virtual Reality for Empathy in Medical Education

Presenters

Songqiao YuFollow

Academic department under which the project should be listed

CCSE - Computer Science

Faculty Sponsor Name

Joy Li

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Introducing empathy for patients with uncommon diseases in medical students has always been a challenge in medical education. Since the most recent decade, a downward trend in medical students’ empathy levels has been observed. For diseases caused by nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), evidence has shown that it is harder for healthcare providers to acquire cognitive perspective-taking ability while lacking the necessary knowledge and affection about the disease, hence preventing them from providing the most appropriate caring to the patients. Fortunately, with the rapid evolution of technologies, it is possible to use advanced gaming devices as tools to improve teaching efficacy, enhance students’ understanding of a specific disease and influence their prosocial behavior towards patients. Studies suggest that virtual reality (VR) game applications are effective in education due to its immersive interaction, sense of presence, and fully controllable virtual environment. This paper presents a study using a VR serious game to enhance medical students’ empathy level for patients with PD. By engaging students in the simulated daily lives of patients with PD, we aim to let medical students have hands-on experience of the disease and thus facilitate their understanding of the symptoms and the empathy for patients. Data collection is embedded in the gameplay along with a scoring system. In addition, pre- and post- measurements on the empathy scale, attitudes change, and VR performance are used to assess the effectiveness of the virtual learning environment. By combining the expertise of the gaming field and the medical field, the application is able to convey professional and accurate medical knowledge with advanced VR techniques and interactive contents to promote empathy. Medical school professors and students were involved in game design and playtest. The developed VR game is scheduled to be integrated into the medical program curriculum as a novel educational approach.

Project Type

Event

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Parkinson Symptom Simulation in Virtual Reality for Empathy in Medical Education

Introducing empathy for patients with uncommon diseases in medical students has always been a challenge in medical education. Since the most recent decade, a downward trend in medical students’ empathy levels has been observed. For diseases caused by nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), evidence has shown that it is harder for healthcare providers to acquire cognitive perspective-taking ability while lacking the necessary knowledge and affection about the disease, hence preventing them from providing the most appropriate caring to the patients. Fortunately, with the rapid evolution of technologies, it is possible to use advanced gaming devices as tools to improve teaching efficacy, enhance students’ understanding of a specific disease and influence their prosocial behavior towards patients. Studies suggest that virtual reality (VR) game applications are effective in education due to its immersive interaction, sense of presence, and fully controllable virtual environment. This paper presents a study using a VR serious game to enhance medical students’ empathy level for patients with PD. By engaging students in the simulated daily lives of patients with PD, we aim to let medical students have hands-on experience of the disease and thus facilitate their understanding of the symptoms and the empathy for patients. Data collection is embedded in the gameplay along with a scoring system. In addition, pre- and post- measurements on the empathy scale, attitudes change, and VR performance are used to assess the effectiveness of the virtual learning environment. By combining the expertise of the gaming field and the medical field, the application is able to convey professional and accurate medical knowledge with advanced VR techniques and interactive contents to promote empathy. Medical school professors and students were involved in game design and playtest. The developed VR game is scheduled to be integrated into the medical program curriculum as a novel educational approach.