NOV 13, 2019 11:03 AM PST

Can Virtual Reality Advance Art Therapy?

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Virtual reality (VR) has been a rapidly expanding field with a broad spectrum of applications in health care and medicine. Recent studies have examined if VR can improve physical rehabilitation and reduce phobias and fears. "These applications are not only improving health and wellness but also enhancing learning," said Deborah Clegg, PhD, associate dean of research in the College of Nursing and Health Professions. "Drexel is on the cutting edge of incorporating this technology into the classroom to enhance education and ultimately health care."

Learn more about virtual reality (VR) in health care settings:

Now, researchers from Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions in the Creative Arts Therapies Department have been curious if VR can hold applications in the therapeutic arts.

"Art therapy is founded on the idea that creative expression with an art therapist facilitates communication and problem solving, reduces inhibition, alleviates depressive symptoms and promotes personal development," said lead author of the study Girija Kaimal, EdD, an associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

Art produced by a patient in the study. Credit: Drexel University

VR can be used as a tool to facilitate the creative exploration of both art and play. They can help patients with disabilities in sensation, cognition, motor-movements.

"With the availability of cost-effective VR solutions, we are seeing an increased adoption of these technologies in hospitals, clinics and healthcare facilities," said Arun Ramakrishnan, PhD, director of Research Labs in the College of Nursing and Health Professions and co-investigator on this project.

Learn more about the crucial role of art therapy in the process of healing:

"Most participants reported feeling energized and elated by the experience of being in an imaginal space that was unlike anything that existed in the material world," said Kaimal. "Some were, however, disappointed by the lack of tangible, physical engagement with the medium and for a few, the experience was disorienting."

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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