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Telemedicine and Portable Virtual Environment in Clinical Psychology

Objective

The objective of the project is to prove the technical and clinical viability of using portable and shared Virtual Reality systems in clinical psychology. The project will provide both innovative VR based tools for the treatment of patients, clinical trials to verify their viability and action plans for dissemination of its results.
In particular VEPSY aims at:
a) Designing and developing 4 VR based tools targeted to the following disorders: panic disorder, social phobia and agoraphobia; male impotence and premature ejaculation; obesity, bulimia and binge-eating disorders.
b) Defining new treatment protocols for assessment and therapy.
c) Testing their efficacy at a scale of operation representing reality: no less than 270 patients from 3 different EU countries.
d) Disseminating the obtained results to Extended Audience.

Objectives:
The main goal of the project is to prove the technical and clinical viability of using portable and shared Virtual Reality systems in clinical psychology. The project will provide both innovative VR based tools for the treatment of patients, clinical trials to verify their viability and action plans for dissemination of its results. The selected disorders are: panic disorder, social phobia and agoraphobia; obesity, bulimia and binge-eating disorders; male impotence and premature ejaculation. To reach this goal in 1999 different US government institutions funded the research in this area with 22 million US$ vs. less that 2 million Euros from EU institutions. In this sense the project, joining the major European players in the field aims at creating a sufficient critical mass to make the EU-based research more competitive.

Work description:
In particular VEPSY will reach its goals by:
a) Designing/tuning and developing 4 VRMS clinical modules to be used with the Virtual Reality Modular System (VRMS)defined by two successful 4FP EC funded projects.
The selected disorders are:
- panic disorder and agoraphobia;L%- male impotence and premature ejaculation;
- obesity, bulimia and binge-eating disorders;
- social phobia.
To ensure the broadest user base, the developed modules will be available both as shared telemedicine tools available through Internet by using a plug-in for the most common browsers (Explorer and Navigator) and as portable tools based on Speed-Step notebook PCs. This choice ensures low costs, wide availability, an open architecture and the possibility of benefiting from the improvements planned for these machine by INTEL and AMD, mainly faster processors and enhanced multimedia support.

b) Defining new treatment protocols for the use of the clinical modules in assessment and therapy. In doing this the project will follow a User-Centred Strategy where feedback from individual users (and from groups representing users) will play a key role in driving the design and implementation process.

c) Testing their efficacy at a scale of operation representing reality. In particular the project plans a 9-monthDemonstration phase involving no less than 30 patients and a 15-month Validation phase involving no less than 240 patients from at least two different EC countries.

d) Disseminating the obtained results to Extended Audience. Both clinicians and end users will be reached.

Milestones:
Key milestones are:
a) development of the prototypes;
b) end of small-scale clinical trials;
c) development of the clinical modules;
d) end of large-scale clinical trials
e) tuning.

Anticipated deliverables are: improved methods to prevent, diagnose and treat major mental/psychological illnesses; more competitive VR-based technological products and services for coping with major disturbances and for promoting the quality of life, autonomy and social integration of psycho-pathological patients.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

ISTITUTO AUXOLOGICO ITALIANO
Address
Via L. Ariosto 13
20145 Milano
Italy

Participants (11)

ASSOCIAZIONE MEDICI PSICOTERAPEUTI
Italy
Address
Via Mestrina 86
30170 Venezia - Mestre
DIPARTIMENTO DI INFORMATICA SISTEMISTICA E TELEMATICA
Italy
Address
Viale Causa 13
16145 Genova
ECOLE NATIONALE SUPERIEURE D'INGENIEURS DE CAEN
France
Address
6, Boulevard Marechal Juin
14050 Caen Cedex 4
ELSAG S.P.A.
Italy
Address
Via Puccini 2
16154 Genova
PSICOLOGIA Y REALIDAD VIRTUAL S.L.
Spain
Address
Grabador Esteve 12 Pta 4
46004 Valencia
TSD-PROJECTS S.R.L.
Italy
Address
Via Vittor Pisani 27
20124 Milano
UNIVERSIDAD POLITECNICA DE VALENCIA
Spain
Address
Camino De Vera S/n
46022 Valencia
UNIVERSITA CATTOLICA DEL SACRO CUORE
Italy
Address
Largo Gemelli 1
20123 Milano
UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI PADOVA
Italy
Address
Via Viii Febbraio 2
35122 Padova (Pd)
UNIVERSITAT JAUME I DE CASTELLON
Spain
Address
Avenida Vicent Sos Baynat S/n
12006 Castellon De La Plana
VRHEALTH MULTIMEDIA CONSULTING SRL
Italy
Address
Via Rubens 20
20148 Milano