Upper School Virtual Reality Students Partner with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Jan 15, 2020 | Build People Up, Come to Play, courage over comfort, Humanities, IMAMUSTANG, Impact, Innovation, Inquiry, Maker, Maverick, Multiplier, PBL/IBL, Share the Well, Upper School News

Over the last year and a half, Upper School Virtual Reality students, along with Director of Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab Marie Graham, have been working alongside Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) to create a VR program to help patients who are going through physical therapy.

The program developed by the students, The Island, serves as a distraction from pain and encourages patients to use their bodies better during physical therapy sessions by bending, stretching, squatting and moving throughout the virtual island.

While creating the program, Mount Vernon students interviewed patients and prototyped the program to best match the identified needs.

Throughout the process, Mrs. Graham shares that the students showed empathy, and did a great job asking, “what do you need?”

Ultimately, The Island was created for patients to navigate and explore.

On one side of The Island, users will find a beach. They hear seagulls squawking and waves crashing. They can interact with beach balls, treasure chests, and buckets on the ground they can reach down to pick up.

On the other side of The Island is a beach carnival, complete with a rideable Ferris wheel and carnival games.

On Tuesday, January 14, a group of Mount Vernon innovators went to CHOA to present their product.

“I was so proud. It was a really important moment for me, these creative kids, and the School. To be able to watch our students make a huge impact on these children was simply amazing.”
– Marie Graham
, Director of Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab

While working with the program in real-time, the physical therapists shared that the patients using Virtual Reality moved and completed much more in their PT session than they did on a normal day, without the program.

When one of the physical therapists mentioned that she wished she could see what her patient was seeing, Mount Vernon students didn’t hesitate, quickly grabbed an iPad, and programmed it to mirror exactly what was shown in the Virtual Reality.

Over the coming months, these same students will return to CHOA to see how the product is being used, receive feedback, and make any necessary adjustments.