Virtual Avatar Nurses Treat Depression in Young Adults


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Virtual Avatar Nurses Treat Depression in Young Adults


Just when you think that the uses for avatars are just about all taken up, new research has revealed that using a combination of virtual avatars, a computer and a little bit of nifty technology can dramatically reduce depression.   


So how does it work? Well we all probably know that teenagers and young adults in their early twenties aren't always the easiest to deal with. Many don't like to admit to weaknesses especially with mental health. The stigma associated with visiting the doctors due to a mental illness is seen as a talking point in society. Avatars have found a way into the health sector to treat depression.  


Case Western Reserve University have researched 28 patients and made tests before and after over a two month time span. Using the avatar technology called eSMART-MH patients with depression are guided through appointments by virtual characters on a computer program. Interacting and answering questions to virtual avatars have guided depressive patients through coaching programs.  


Basically it has been found that young adults react well to these avatar nurses. From scans taken before and after significant improvements had been made with many.  


In this case it seems avatars are taking the place of doctors and nurses. By pre-programming systems like this, the avatars will know how to react in a positive way, thus helping people through their depression. 


Not only will it feel to the person that they are taking steps to combat their issues, it will also feel less drastic than visiting a doctor in person. There is also the other idea fact that many people would take steps to visit a virtual avatar, when they may not feel comfortable and probably never talk about their problems to a human doctor or nurse in real life. 


Virtual avatar characters are being used for more everyday applications, as we speak new ways to use avatar technology is emerging. Soon we won't be able to leave the house without communicating with virtual character of some form. Its just another positive step forward and proof that humans and avatars make great partners.

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