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Exploring therapeutic applications for Google Earth VR

Rhonda Nelson, PhD, MTRS, CTRS, MT-BC, FDRT, Lauren Lee Isaacs, MS, TRS, CTRS

Abstract


Virtual reality (VR) is a technology frequently used for both recreation and healthcare service delivery. Yet, little is known about the applicability and use of specific VR applications in recreational therapy (RT) practice. Google Earth VR is a popular application that allows users to virtually travel to different locations around the world. It could have relevance in patient-centered treatment that addresses a variety of RT treatment goals. Using a focus group of RTs (N = 8), this study examined possible uses of Google Earth VR in RT treatment. Following an education and training session providing an overview of VR equipment and the Google Earth VR application, participants engaged in clinical role play from both a therapist and client perspective. This was followed by a focus group discussion where therapists were asked to identify possible treatment uses for Google Earth VR with the clients they serve. Four main themes emerged, including reminiscing, community integration/leisure education, social skills development, and distraction/pain management. Findings indicate RTs view Google Earth VR as a resource with potential therapeutic applications for new and innovative treatment. The identified treatment focus areas also provide guidance for professional resource development and future research studies.


Keywords


Google Earth VR, recreational therapy, therapy, travel, virtual reality

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/ajrt.2020.0218

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