Virtual Worlds, Best Practices in Education Conference (VWBPE) 2015

On Saturday, March 21 at 10 am EDT (7 am SLT), I will present  7 Years of Adaptation and Renewal in Second Life at VWBPE 2015.

Please see the full description of this and other presentations at:

Hope to see you there!

Spreading the Word: New Opportunities in Health Literacy

It has been an exciting few months for our work in health literacy.  We are thrilled with the opportunities that continue to arise; opportunities to spread the word about health literacy to our peers, professors, and the occupational therapy community at large.  As we continue to learn about health literacy, we are increasingly convinced of its importance and transformative power in health care.

I recently read Helen Osborne’s book entitled Health Literacy from A to Z.  Osborne talks extensively about how all health care professionals can change the way they interact with clients and promote health literacy.  This makes the health care environment more accessible to all of our clients.  We’re now reading the book as a team and working hard to apply the principles we’ve learned to our other projects.  It is exciting to see my own writing and observation skills improving particularly in our work in Second Life ®.

Our updated Diabetes exhibit include a “Living with Diabetes Listening Station” featuring one individual’s experience managing their blood sugar.

When you visit the Garden of Healthy Aging, you’ll notice that we are updating our exhibits to be more user-friendly and provide information more clearly.  In addition, we’re working to update our wiki pages.  This is one of the most exciting ways to apply our knowledge of health literacy in writing, formatting, and design.  Our hope is that we can create a useable site that provides a lot of “need to know” information in a way that people of all different reading levels can understand.  We are making progress towards our goal, but still have a long way to go and a lot to continue learning!

We are excited to announce that Pfizer Inc. granted us permission to use their “Newest Vital Sign”, a health literacy screen for clients, within our Second Life ® exhibit.  This will give users the opportunity to test their level of health literacy as well as tips for improving health literacy.  We hope to empower clients to take a greater control in their health and gain confidence in asking health professionals questions.

Dr. Toth-Cohen, PhD, OTR/L is currently developing a course in health literacy for students in a variety of professions at Thomas Jefferson University. This is a great opportunity to help future health professionals gain a greater understanding of the importance of health literacy and how they can interact most effectively with their patients.  This class also comes a time when the occupational therapy department at Thomas Jefferson is looking to incorporate the principles of health literacy into the curriculum.  We presented to the faculty about health literacy which opened to the door for great discussion about the future of health literacy within the department and the future of our project

Annalisa, Dr. Toth-Cohen, and I will be presenting at the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association conference this September  about why health literacy matters to occupational therapists.  This is an exciting opportunity to have our work recognized by other occupational therapists in our state and for us to encourage them to integrate health literacy principles into their area of practice.  We are looking forward to sharing what we have learned and hope to be a catalyst for change within occupational therapy practice.

This is a thrilling time of change and progress with our program and I am honored to have the opportunity to be a part of it!  My hope is that others will continue to catch the dream that we have and empower others to change the way the health care system operates.  We are hoping to have many more opportunities to spread the word.

Health Literacy Grant

This fall, we were funded by the Jefferson School of Health Professions‘ (JSHP) Research and Scholarship program to develop a program that uses Second Life as a training center for JSHP graduate students in occupational therapy. This program is designed to help students learn best practices for promoting health literacy in older adults by implementing evidence-based consumer education.

The current phase of the program provides students in the Fall 2011 class, Older Adults and Their Living Environments with the opportunity to learn about health literacy and develop a presentation on area relevant to older adults.  The four participating students, Mollie Bear, Bonnie Bennett, Aly Binck, and Lauren Lovinger first attended a presentation on basic tenets of health literacy. They then developed and presented talks on Transitioning to the Caregiving Role and  Staying Involved throughout Life. These talks will be summarized in a subsequent post.

Promoting Occupational Therapy in Virtual Environments

Promoting Occupational Therapy in Virtual Environments

On Friday April 15, Veronica, Elizabeth, Kaitlin, and I presented our poster at AOTA, Promoting_OT_virtual_env. [BTW, I tried to avoid using a colon as recommended but could not take it out for some reason! See Colin Purrington’s guide to successful poster presentation for a humorous look at colon use.]
Many people stopped by, and there appeared to be a lot of interest. The students did a great job fielding questions and discussing the process of exhibit and event development. Common questions included “how long did it take you to create each exhibit” (about 3 months altogether) and “do you have any idea how many people have seen this?”

Mental Health, GO!

Our newest venture is beginning! We have begun preliminary research for our newest exhibit: Mental Health. This is an exciting time, for all of us involved in the project; and for me, personally because mental health is an area of clinical interest.  My fellow students, Katie (Angelica) and Elizabeth (Zunie) are investigating depression and I am researching addiction. Before we ventured out on our own to our respective topics, we went to visit a Mental Health exhibit already being displayed on HealthInfo Island in Second Life. The exhibit there was created by DrFran Babcock (RL: Fran Babiss) and highlights famous people who have a mental health diagnosis such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Our team spent a while visiting this exhibit; it provoked interesting conversation about the secrecy surrounding these celebrities diagnoses. We discussed at length about how there is still a stigma surrounding mental health diagnoses that often proves detrimental to people’s well-being because they wait too long to seek help. Hopefully this exhibit and the new one at the OT Center at Jefferson will help to bring Mental Health back into the forefront of people’s minds, in terms of Occupational Therapy and beyond.

Needless to say, there is so much information available on both topics.  So far in my research on addiction, I am noticing that over the past five years there has been a lot of focus on brain chemistry, genetics, veterans, and pain as they all relate to addiction in various ways.  I haven’t delved too deep into the research yet as we are just trying to get a general idea of what is happening in the field so we can make our exhibit as relevant as possible. It will be challenging for us will be to whittle down to the most important issues and connect the implications for both depression and addiction in terms of health and participation in life since there is so much information available.

One of the goals of Occupational Therapy is to treat the whole person and drug/alcohol addiction affects many different facets of an individual’s life. I find this connection exciting because as OTs, we will be able to assist people struggling with addiction in many different ways that take into account each person’s individual situation.  Please stay tuned for our updates as we continue our research!

Healthy Aging Exhibit Nears Completion


Healthy Aging Exhibit


Weekly meeting activities


Stress Management Area in Progress

Masters students doing Second Life final projects and grad assistants have been hard at work developing the exhibits for the soon-to-be-launched Healthy Aging exhibit. This exhibit expands the previous Garden of Healthy Aging considerably and has its own separate site to accommodate the larger scale and number of prims.  It will be accessible from the OT Center at Eduisland 2 via landmark.

Zsuzsa will present the Healthy Aging project at the annual Gerontological Society of America meeting. The conference theme this year is Creative Approaches to Healthy Aging.

Renovated Adaptation Home Nears Completion

Discussing renovations to the adapted home

Discussing renovations to the adapted home

Last night we met with Kathee Gibbs (top photo, far left) to discuss final renovations to the Adapted Home. We have a duplicate of the home at our sandbox where we experiment. Kathee made some suggestions that Sweeney (“Holodeck queen,” pink jacket) will put in place and was very pleased overall with the displays. Later on, Plato Pizzicatto (our collaborator from Penn State Abington, white shirt) stopped by. Carly Charlesworth also stopped by unexpectedly (and serendipitously). Carly provided insights and suggestions from her experiences of severe sciatica when she used a wheelchair and crutches.

The renovation gives visitors the option to click on the light switch for each room (labeled holo-emitter, above) and choose Mobility, Cognitive, or Low Vision scenes.  Additional information can be accessed by clicking the icon board in each room (labeled more info, above). Grad student Lynnze Inglewood has done the scripting for the boards. We will also launch a Wiki that provides web links and information about home adaptations, universal design, and healthy aging (which we will renovate next with particular attention to psychosocial issues in aging). We expect to announce an Open House upon completion of renovations next week or early the following week.