Embodied Empathy: Using virtual reality to walk in someone else’s shoes

What happens when you use virtual reality (VR) to understand what it’s like to be in someone else’s body? Can VR create empathy?

An Oct. 9 event held by the Department of Neurology and VCU School of the Arts showcased a virtual reality (VR) simulation designed to demonstrate the struggles of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 

Faculty from the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine collaborated with an interdisciplinary lab at VCUarts, called Embodied Empathy, to create VR scenarios that allow the user to experience ALS in three different stages of the disease. The goal is to increase understanding and empathy among family, friends, caregivers and advocates while also contributing to the medical and community education regarding motor neuron diseases such as ALS. 

The event, attended by patients, families, faculty and staff was an overwhelming success, with positive feedback from attendees. The Department of Neurology looks forward to expanding this endeavor to involve community outreach as well as residency education.   

Read more about Embodied Empathy here.

ALS Event Photogallery

Photos taken during the ALS event on October 9th, 2019.

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