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Embodying the Alzheimer's Experience

Embodying aspects of Alzheimer's disease gives care partners new insights that improves their quality of life and that of their loved one.

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Overview:

Embodied Labs envisions a world where caregivers can better care for and understand the perspectives of vulnerable patient populations. To accomplish this goal, we have created a subscription-based software made up of a growing library of embodied patient experience labs that end users experience through a virtual reality headset. All of our labs are based on the Embodied Lab Learning Framework that is grounded in embodied learning theory and implemented across three stages: prepare, embody, and reflect. We currently have two virtual experiences that allow a learner to embody an elderly man who has hearing and vision loss. Our next experience will be a three-part module where learners embody an elderly woman as she progresses through early, middle, and late stage Alzheimer's disease.

Sample Learning Outcomes for The Alzheimer's Lab:

Learners will:

1. Understand how Alzheimer's affects each of the five regions of the brain and what symptoms and behaviors can be linked to these regions.

2. Understand how caregivers can engage with their loved one in positive ways that promote better communication and quality of life for both the caregiver and person with Alzheimer's.

3. Understand how the person with the disease, their care partners, and various parts of the healthcare system can all work together as a team.

4. Understand some of the ways that culture and a person's background can affect their and their families' perceptions of Alzheimer's disease.

How it works:

Currently, our beta customers purchase a VR headset, computer, and software subscription. A learner logs into the app, selects a lab, takes a pre-assessment, embodies a patient, completes a post-assessment, and exits. There are a variety of options for further reflection individually and in groups with the accompanying curricular materials that come with the module. 

Who our customers are:

Our software is being used by students in medical schools, osteopathic schools, physician assistant schools, allied health programs, high schools, and by staff and family education in long term care facilities.

Looking to the future:

As the VR hardware continues to change, we envision that it will become a common patient and family education tool for any organization or business that serves older adults. Eventually, mobile virtual reality technology will progress to the point that our high quality, interactive experiences will be accessible through an app on an affordable VR headset. At Embodied Labs, we are committed to bringing patient experience labs to the forefront of healthcare training!

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Ten years ago, my mom was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. I wondered constantly -- what is she experiencing? How is she perceiving the world? If I could embody her and learn about AD from her point of view, would this make me a better caregiver? I soon realized that virtual reality technology makes this possible, so I started a company to explore the answer to these questions.

Tell us about your work experience:

I founded Embodied Labs in 2016, with the idea of creating a virtual "human experience library". Since then, we have acquired customers in both higher education and various types of senior services.

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