Study to assess how virtual reality job training program can help adults with traumatic brain injury

Helen Genova, PhD, received a $599,103 grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) for the three-year study, "Using virtual reality to improve job reentry in adults with traumatic brain injury: a randomized controlled trial." Dr. Genova, principal investigator, is assistant director of the Center for Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation.

This study is the first to use this program in the population with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. Dr. Genova will collaborate with the University of Michigan on this study. Her co-investigators at Kessler Foundation are Denise Krch, PhD, and Anthony Lequerica, PhD, from the Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Research, and John O'Neill, PhD, director of the Center for Employment and Disability Research.

This study will assess the impact of a virtual reality job training program aimed at improving the social competency skills that people with moderate to severe brain injury need to engage successfully in the job reentry process.

The program was developed by SIMmersion LLC in partnership with Matthew J. Smith, PhD, associate professor at the University of Michigan, through funding provided by the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Smith found that after using the virtual reality job training program, employment outcomes improved for jobseekers with autism and schizophrenia, as well as young adults.

This program offers the opportunity for individuals with traumatic brain injury to engage in social job skills. Because this program uses virtual reality, it allows for repeated practice in a virtual environment enabling individuals to learn to manage the challenges of re-entering the workforce. We anticipate that jobseekers with traumatic brain injury will be able to improve their skills and increase their confidence, resulting in better employment outcomes."

Dr. Helen Genova

Dr. Genova talks about applying this virtual reality tool to her research in this recent podcast: Fast Take: Applying Virtual Reality to Improve Job-reentry Skills in Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury by Kessler Foundation

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