Albert “Skip” Rizzo is the Director for Medical Virtual Reality at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies and has Research Professor appointments with the USC Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and at the USC Davis School of Gerontology. Dr. Rizzo conducts research on the design, development and evaluation of Virtual Reality (VR) systems targeting the areas of clinical assessment, treatment and rehabilitation. This work spans the domains of psychological, cognitive and motor functioning in both healthy and clinical populations. In the psychological domain, the Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan project has focused on the creation of a VR prolonged exposure therapy application for combat and military sexual trauma-related PTSD with OIF/OEF service members and veterans. This system has now being retooled for a stress resilience/coping strategy-training application for use at prior to a combat deployment. His cognitive work has addressed the use of VR applications to test and train attention, memory, visuospatial abilities and executive function. In the motor domain, he has developed VR Game systems to address rehabilitation post stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury. He is also involved with ICT collaborators in the creation of artificially intelligent virtual human patients that clinicians can use to practice skills required for challenging clinical interviews and diagnostic assessments (sexual assault, resistant patients, etc.) and for creating online virtual human healthcare guides for breaking down barriers to care in psychological health and TBI. In spite of the diversity of these areas of research and development, the common thread that drives all of these applications involves the study of how VR simulation technology can be usefully applied to serve the needs of clinical users in a manner that goes beyond what is available with traditional 20th Century tools and methods.
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