Mental Heath Events Attract Diverse/international audience

MH events

Mental Health Events at OT Center at Jefferson in Second Life

On February 17 and 19, 1st year OT students Kaitlin (Rukii Winterwolf) and Veronica (Vironica Loxley) presented about the role of OT in mental health. Their presentation, Beyond Stigma to Participation, started with a video excerpt and discussion question on stigma and mental health and went on to provide a detailed summary of OT’s role in mental health. 2nd year students Andrea and Stephanie also assisted with the events.
Audiences were quite different at the two presentations. On Thursday evening, most who attended were educators or health care practitioners. On Saturday, most participants who came to the presentation had a more personal interest in the topic, with family or themselves experiencing the effects of stigma. Participants included those from Scotland, England, Spain, Dubai, Croatia, and the United States. It was gratifying to see the interest that a simple announcement and event notice generated:

Come and enjoy an interactive presentation on Mental Health Conditions and the role of an Occupational Therapist. Presented by occupational therapy students at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia

National Alzheimer’s Project Act

January meeting
The January meeting of our support group for caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s focused on passage of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA). Our new first year student, Vironica Loxley, did considerable research for the talk which was presented by Zsuzsa Tomsen and Geri Kuhn, group facilitators. Our main sources of information for the talk were the Alzheimer’s association (NAPA information), the report of the Alzheimer’s Study Group, and a discussion of non-pharmacologic treatments written by Drs. Laura Gitlin and Mary Mittelman. Geri also shared interesting commentary by Sandra Day O’Connor and Maria Shriver. The session was well-attended and included lively discussion of the issues that arise for implementing NAPA. Among the issues raised were: use of Second Life vs. a non-commercial virtual world such as Open Sim to present such topics and mobilize for action, the role of Medicare in funding interventions for those with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers, and the use of social networks to implement programming for NAPA. We hope this talk will be a starting point for more discussions and action that may help persons with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

My Second Life® experiences as a Grad student

I originally joined SL in February, 2008 as my graduate research project. The OT Center was already up and running. I worked with Zsuzsa (my teacher/mentor, Susan Toth-Cohen) and other grad students to produce exhibits using PowerPoints, videos, and some interactive displays and quizzes. With each new exhibit, I feel the Center is becoming more interactive and fun! Collaborating with other disciplines and groups in SL has been beneficial to me and the Center to produce more informative, interactive displays.


Working on the latest exhibit, Adaptive Environments, has really helped me hone in my knowledge and skills I have learned so far at Jefferson and apply it universally to any population. Trying to simulate a home in SL that illustrates the barriers people can face in RL has been challenging. I am still a newbie as far as building, but I did make a few things and plan to undertake some more to enhance the exhibit.


I am learning how to make a video of the Adaptive Environments exhibit. I intend to use it as part of a teaching module for the undergraduate OT students at my school who are taking that class in RL. I hope to show them the benefits of using 3-D worlds to gain a better understanding of the learning material as opposed to typical classroom settings.


For my preliminary project, I have collected and analyzed initial survey data. Now I have revised the survey questions and will use the analysis of this new data for my final research project. The new survey is more comprehensive and includes an optional follow-up interview. Overall the preliminary data was positive and I am hopeful that the new data will bring similar positive results.

So stop by the OT Center at Eduisland II and check out our displays and if you can….take the current survey. Please check back frequently for information about the new survey and program evaluation. J

Thanks, Alana Scorbal

Reflections on a year in Second Life®: What have we learned?

Looking at the video I produced about our work in Second Life® last year, I’m struck by some important differences then and now:

  • a shift to project-based work – instead of seeing virtual worlds as a place to hold classes (and create rather traditional looking classrooms to house them), take a primary theme (Living Life to its Fullest) and build exhibits around it related to our aims in Second Life®
  • use interactive media whenever possible to provide education. Displays such as slide shows have their place but should be used minimally.
  • create a structure for projects through regular meetings
  • collaborate with other health professionals, persons with disabilities, and others to create experiences within virtual worlds.
    On some level, I think I “knew” these things were best practices a year ago, but experience provides a deeper, richer understanding and commitment.
    For a description of current work, see the updated YouTube video at:

Stroke Exhibit Finds New Home at HealthInfo Island

Walk-through middle cerebral artery at HealthInfo Island

Walk-through middle cerebral artery at HealthInfo Island

Our stroke awareness exhibit, with its displays, quizzes, and free gifts, is now up and running at HealthInfo Island.

…the island is home to a consumer health library and a medical library, as well as virtual outposts or displays run by the National Library of Medicine’s Special Information Services, contractors for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Accessibility Center.

Carolina Keats, who runs the island, had seen the exhibit when it was up at the OT Center on Eduisland II and asked if we would consider placing it there after the exhibit period was over. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to be part of the wonderful resources and collaboration that make HealthInfo Island a unique Second Life(R) venue.

Generous Donation to Expand Adapting Environments Exhibit

The IM came in out of the blue, from Kathee Gibbs, whom I’d never met. She and partners Lucinda Bergbahn and Pecos Kid were finalists in the Second Life and the Public Good: A Community Challenge from USC. Kathee IM’d because she wanted to talk to me about donating the award Lindens to our Center. When we had a chance to talk yesterday, I found out that we shared the same idea for a program development project in Second Life: educate people about adaptations that can be put in place at home, to improve daily life. Specifically, Kathee’s proposal was to “provide a tool that persons with mobility impairment can easily and cost effectively access to explore ways in which they can improve accessibility in their homes and thus the quality of their daily lives. ” We met at the OT Center to talk, and Kathie shared her ideas about how the adaptation exhibit at the Center might be further developed to incorporate more interactivity and consumer choice.

Kathie and Zsu discuss ideas for expansion of the adapted home

Kathie and Zsu discuss ideas for expansion of the adapted home

Today, Kathie told me she discussed the donation with partners Lucinda Bergbahn and Pecos Kid, who gave the green light to provide funding to our Center! I’m amazed at their generosity and so pleased to know that their gift will enable us to expand our work and, we hope, benefit persons with and without disabilities and raise awareness of the possibilities that can be achieved through home adaptation.

Mixed Reality Dinch (Dinner-Lunch) Philadelphia-London-Somewhere in Iowa

Part of the fun of SecondLife(R) is experimentation, whether it’s in-world or doing SL-related work in first life. Well…we experimented in both worlds (mixed reality) with a Dinch (Dinner-Lunch) shared by Gia Rossini and Dizzy Banjo (London), Penelope Drucker (somewhere in Iowa), and  Plato Pizzicato and me (Philadelphia).  Check out the YouTube vid:

Things weren’t perfect–it was hard to hear, and we couldn’t get much of a sense of what was going on in London (just that it was very noisy). And, apparently the bartender where Gia was did not have the same fascination with what we were doing as the Bonte employee. Next time, we’d like to try multiple video streams, so each can see each other’s first life setting.