Helping Amputees Virtually

“Second Life is the perfect place for amputees to overcome emotional trauma by sharing stories and realizing they are not alone!” says Sandra L. Winkler, assistant professor at NOVA SouthEastern University in Florida, teaching occupational therapy.

In a recent episode of the Drax Files, they produced a wonderful video about an amazing use of virtual worlds. Sandra Winkler created an online environment that brings people together from across the world who can then create a virtual support group. Sandra also goes on to say that not only can they find support to help resolve their emotional trauma, but also enables them to see how their bodies can do things in RL by watching their avatars do the same things.

In addition, it gives non-disabled people an opportunity to experience what it is like to have a limb missing by having a prosthetic in Second Life. Sandra also teaches her students in RL empathy by having them try to get around in a wheelchair for a period of time, or have them wear a blindfold to experience what it is like to be blind.

Sandra’s Virtual Health Adventures also has a prosthetic museum that displays various prosthetics from before Jesus’s time. It shows exactly how far we’ve come in just the last few years, let alone the last 2000 years.

This is very similar to Episode 13, where they featured how Second Life helped a woman with Parkinson’s disease be able to do more in real life by watching her avatar do them in Second Life. By interacting in a virtual environment, this creats new neural pathways in the brain to help people with disabilities — in this case, someone with Parkinson’s.

Sandra’s Virtual Health Adventures is part of her project “Dissemination of Amputation and Prosthetic Evidenced-based Medicine” is funded by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Here’s the video.

Once again, this just goes to show that Second Life is more than just socialization and virtual sex. It is bringing people together for emotional support, helping people with disabilities have better real lives, and educating others.

I remain respectfully yours,
Suzanne Piers
ZoHa Islands Social Media Manager