Hopebridge Commits to Clinical Innovation with Neurodivergent-Friendly Virtual Reality Research
November 21, 2022
November 21, 2022
Here in the 21st century, even as we have video phone calls à la George Jetson and talk of what life could be like in the metaverse, virtual reality (VR) technology has often still felt like something of the future and out of reach … until now. And even better? It’s serving a bigger purpose that is more than just a game, toy or fantasy world. It’s becoming part of life-changing therapy.
Yes, it’s happening at Hopebridge! As part of our initiative to advance research around autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we are leading groundbreaking new virtual reality research in several centers across the country.
To launch this research, we are utilizing Akiva, an immersive virtual reality learning experience that combines gaming with artificial intelligence to create a predictable learning ecosystem that enables children with special needs to develop sensory, cognitive, perceptual and fine motor skills. By using Akiva through Oculus Quest VR headsets, our clinicians will be able to monitor and record the additive benefits of VR paired with applied behavior analysis (ABA therapy) to increase the rate of acquisition of targeted skills in children with autism.
Hopebridge Chief Science Officer Dr. Adam Hahs is leading the study.
“Virtual reality holds tremendous potential to both enhance and improve the way we deliver care to our patients,” said Dr. Hahs. “Our partnership with Akiva demonstrates our commitment to innovation and the growing digital therapeutic market. Our clinicians are empowered to utilize customized technology, infrastructure and research solutions to accelerate critical early intervention for patient development.”
While the applicability of VR was never in question, the reach is soon to be realized given the recent announcement of a billing code for services affording families this opportunity. With payor recognition of VR, families will be able to access a treatment in ABA that is the gold standard in the health care vertical.
The clinical pilots with Akiva will focus on studying an in-center therapy program, with Akiva software collecting data and patient outcomes. The cloud-based software will provide real-time data tracking for clinical outcomes, including:
“At Akiva, our vision is to enable neurodivergent individuals to learn, self-explore, and thrive on developing their unique abilities,” said Akiva CEO Alexander Landa. “The proliferation of virtual reality and machine learning has expanded the ways in which companies like Hopebridge can provide care that is safe, immersive, and fun to the recipients, while data-driven, objective improvements are shared with all members of the ecosystem. Akiva is working closely with Hopebridge to refine and develop the platform functionality blueprint that will revolutionize early intervention.”
Data tracking for phase one pilots will inform the execution and delivery of phase two, which consists of wide-scale, randomized controlled trial study (RCT) to be launched across Hopebridge’s entire footprint in 2023, spanning more than 120 centers.
For the children who are directly interacting with this VR technology at Hopebridge, this therapy provides a new way – and a fun, virtual space – to target shape identification, sound formation, articulation, social skills, motor skills and more. We’ll be able to target existing behavior skills, observing both with and without VR to gauge its effectiveness.
As an added benefit, we are able to expand our reach of instruction and continuity of care through this study. It’s conducted in a home setting, which offers a controlled environment as well as at-home reinforcement.
For the broader Hopebridge community and autism population, our use of VR in therapy means so much more.
“We’re not just doing something that is fun for the kids and clinicians, nor are we jumping into technology solely to be the first—we’re creating clinical outcomes. We believe this significant research has the opportunity to make a major impact on how we approach and track skill development throughout a range of autism therapies,” said Hopebridge Clinical Director TJ Larum.
This major project is just one piece of Hopebridge’s efforts to enhance clinical outcomes and increase value-based care. Dr. Hahs also leads Hopebridge’s participation in the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM), as well as heads exclusive continuing education opportunities for clinicians, like PEAK training.
If you are a clinician looking to join us in advancing the world of ABA for our children, find out more about the nationwide job opportunities at Hopebridge by visiting our Jobs page.
Or, if you are searching for effective and compassionate care for your child with a company that is always looking for cutting-edge ways to provide the best possible services to your child, please contact us here. We want to help your child unlock even more possibilities in life.
*Informed consent was obtained from the participants in this article. This information should not be captured and reused without express permission from Hopebridge, LLC.