Physical Therapy Students Prepare for the Real World via Virtual Reality Training

therapy studies

Avatars Hit the Physical Therapy Job Scene

Physical therapy students at the University of Kansas Medical Center are among the hi-tech wave of entrepreneurs, engineering and medical professionals to take advantage of Second Life — an online community computer program where participants create their own avatars and manipulate them in job training drills, business conferences and group study projects.

So far the software lives up to its hype, dramatically cutting costs for businesses (like hospitals and clinics) accustomed to the transportation and lodging expenses associated with more traditional methods of preparing PTs for physical therapy jobs.

Educating groups face-to-face takes a toll on the environment, using more of the planet’s resources to ensure everyone meets; the School of Occupational Therapy at Thomas Jefferson University dodged this by using Second Life in its Backpack Awareness week.

Sometimes what starts with a flicker results in a flame—more occupational therapy jobs may be pleasantly impacted by cutting-edge technologies just like this.

Thanks to Second Life, increasing numbers of allied healthcare professionals—those in physical therapy jobs being no exception—are given enviable access to virtual reality training, and its making a huge difference in the span of what they can learn—as well as who they learn it with; that is to say that Second Life makes it possible to train with students from all over the world at the same time; read more about it in the!

OTs and physical therapists new to the virtual reality training scene will be happy to know that learning is a matter of manipulating standard contemporary office equipment, such as headsets, the keyboard and computer mouse; a class instructor will be present as an avatar as well, creating situations inside your shared virtual clinics, or perhaps something on a much larger scale—what Second Life creators call “an island”.

What does an island look like? If you’re imaging something from Gilligan’s Island, think again. For physical therapy students at Kansas Medical Center, a Second Life Island features fully equipped exam rooms, furnished lobbies and realistic operating equipment. These aspiring PTs train in houses, specially designed for conducting home assessments for handicapped patients, which better prepare them for preventing patient falls before they happen. Once a PT logs into the virtual world, he or she can walk the corridors of a true-to-life hospital, clicking on different objects, such as blood pressure cuffs, oxygen masks and laryngoscopes; learning how to attach such items is an important part of the virtual reality training journey.

Virtual vs Traditional Training

Hospitals can’t help comparing a virtual world education to more traditional methods; Kansas is leading by example, with their physical therapy students and instructors finding that Second Life benefits don’t just cut costs, but promote more rapid learning in a more secure environment—worrying about security is a thing of the past, as virtual reality training requires no advanced booking or threat of vandalism and theft. Who knows? Physical therapy schools near you could acquire—if you’ll pardon the turn of phrase—a Second Life—and use virtual reality training for student poster presentations and simulations of Community Living Centers, filled with virtual patients.

Tell your instructors about this article. Faculty awareness is how new learning systems like this find their way into the classroom—real or virtual!