Using virtual reality techniques to treat food disorders

A team of researchers at Kent University in Britain has successfully adapted virtual reality technologies to hold remote meetings between patients who suffer from eating disorders and the specialist doctors who treat them.

The idea of ​​this experiment, reported by the scientific journal "Human Computer Inter Action Journal", is based on the requirement that both patients and treating physicians wear face masks with screens, and that they get to know each other in a virtual environment. And each participant in the experiment chooses the shape of the default model in which it appears within the system, meaning body shape, size, skin and hair color, and other personal physical characteristics.

The meeting takes place between the two parties in a virtual environment, during which they communicate and speak without the need to be in the same place. Patients participating in the experiment are allowed to make a series of changes to their virtual bodies through a set of settings, while expressing their feelings, thoughts and fears during the treatment journey.

Participants in the experiment expressed their belief that not being afraid of being judged during actual physician interviews, helps them adhere to treatment goals.

The experience confirmed that the appearance of the attending physician in a virtual, cartoon character image helps improve the chances of treatment, as the patient is more open in dealing with the doctor in his virtual image, compared to the meetings or interviews that take place between the two parties on the ground.

The "Science Daily" website, which specializes in technology, quoted researcher Jim Ang, who specializes in the field of multimedia systems and digital technologies, as saying that "virtual reality technologies can be used in the health field," stressing that "virtual reality gives the patient the confidence to engage with the doctor and seek medical advice." Moreover, this technology allows remote interviews between patients and doctors, which is of great benefit in times of pandemic.

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