Tackling Stress Head on
Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) is a Belgian SME headquartered in the Brussels Life Science Incubator on the Catholic University’s Brussels campus in Woluwe Saint-Lambert.
For the past 15 years, the company has been using simulation technologies in three main areas:
■ To treat patients with anxiety
disorders (phobias, panic and
post-traumatic stress disorder
■ To train both military and civilian
populations; and
■ To enhance educational
The virtual environments VRMI constructs uniformly elicit significant physiological arousal to replicate real-world experiences. The VRMI team attributes its strength to a cadre of highly experienced medical and psychology professionals, working in tandem with technical team members and end-users. VRMI’s development concept utilises a three-pronged approach. New concepts for products are initially discussed with clinicians and technical members of the team, which include software developers, programmers, hardware integrators and computer graphic artists. After feasibility studies are completed, the team creates prototypes and obtains informed consent and IRB approvals. Following this, these new, virtual worlds are first tested on normal controls and then on study participants. With the participants’ permission, technical team members speak to them about their impressions and thoughts on how to improve the VR software. VRMI has found that most participants are interested in communicating with both clinical and
technical members of the team. In other settings, the latter rarely receive input directly from users, so this feedback is valuable for improving the design of future environments and products to more closely match
end-user needs. Since our team includes international collaborators, we are able to create culturally sensitive VR systems designed for a more diverse group of users. VRMI serves on EU grants as both a Dissemination and Exploitation Work Package Leader and a Clinical Partner, using a combined communications platform of an annual international conference, specialised workshops, a quarterly magazine, a
scientific journal, a website information portal and a social networking site to provide information and education to interested stakeholders, whether they be policymakers, funding agents, academics or interested individual citizens.
The full article can be read here: “Tackling Stress Head On_B. Wiederhold“!
From Generation to Generation

the 17th annual International CyberPsychology and CyberTherapy Conference (CYBER17) convened in Brussels, Belgium on the 25-28th September 2012. With speechs from keynote speakers such as Robert Madelin, Director General  of  the Communications Networks, Content and Technology Directorate General (DG-CONNECT)  at  the  European  Commission (EC), stakeholders from over 20 countries were in attendance, including industry  leaders,  academics, clinicians, government funders and representatives from affiliated associations.

The aim of the conference was twofold: to inform and educate on how advanced technologies, such as virtual reality, are being used in training, therapy  and rehabilitation;  and how interactive  technologies  and social networking tools are affecting individual behaviour (both positively and negatively), as well as interpersonal relationships and society in its entirety. An interactive exhibit area, the Cyberarium, allowed participants to try first-hand the innovative technological solutions.

Last  year,  the  European  Council  endorsed the  EC’s creation of an Innovation Partnership on Healthy and Active Ageing, with the goal of adding two years of healthy life to citizens by 2020. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct activities helping older adults live long, productive  and independent  lives under the Healthy Ageing Programme.

While humanitarian reasons are the foundation for these programmes, the cost to society in their absence cannot be denied. As is true in Japan today, by 2030 more than 20% of the population of northern EC countries, Australia, Canada and the US will be over 65. In the US, about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and such conditions can lead to the person’s inability to perform activities  of daily living (ADL) such as ‘bathing, dressing, eating, or moving around the house’.

Although information and communications technology (ICT) solutions  are only one part of the mix, a recent EC report confirmed that citizens view an ‘innovative way of care’ (a category that includes new ways to organise care, telecare and telehealth) as the most important part. Indeed, the author of a 2008 paper4 determined from a literature review and wireless technology experience that remote monitoring alone could ‘reduce healthcare expenditures by a net of $197bn (in constant 2008 dollars) over the next 25 years with adoption of policies  that reduce barriers and accelerate the use of  remote monitoring technologies’.


The full article is available here: From Generation to Generation – Dr._M.Baker_B.Wierderhold

From Clinical to Cloud
In September 2012, the 17th Annual CyberPsychology & CyberTherapy Conference (CYBER17) was held. With some of the restrictions to growth acknowledged as early as 2000, the International Association of
CyberPsychology, Training, & Rehabilitation (iACToR) community has become acutely aware of the need to transform itself to quicken the pace of progress. Suggestions made around that time period still remain and continued to be amongst the discussions at CYBER17. In 2000 perhaps these difficulties were acceptable; however, with a multitude of technological advancements, and 12 additional years of research funding, these deficiencies need no longer continue. One remaining stumbling block is the lack of interoperability: the applications and software content are available, but the infrastructure is still lacking to allow widespread deployment of these tools.
The need for an overall shift from institutional healthcare settings to everyday environments, and from treatment to a preventive approach based on new personalised healthcare technologies, is widely recognised and made available by the advancement of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The Strategic Approach for the EU for 2008-2013 stated that ‘health is the greatest wealth’ and that ‘health is important for the wellbeing of individuals and society, but a healthy population is also a prerequisite for economic productivity and prosperity’. The strategy of European healthcare envisions innovation coupled with new technologies as the solution to these problems.
A wide variety of health promotion/disease prevention (wellness) multimedia content has been tested and validated in pilot studies and clinical trials. In addition, virtual reality content for multiple disorders ranging from obesity to posttraumatic stress disorder to cognitive and physical rehabilitation has shown clear efficacy. The development cycle for these technologies involved a migration process beginning with first designing and developing the solutions on desktop platforms, with input from end-users, clinicians and technical design staff. Once pilot studies and randomised, controlled clinical trials were performed, then the technologies were ported to more mobile platforms. Now the challenge is to move from the current mobile devices to a cloud-based solution for even easier access and more widely distributed treatment solutions.
It is critical that a platform now be put in place to deploy these tools for widespread use by stakeholders who may benefit from them; in some cases, these stakeholders will be individual citizens, and in other cases, healthcare providers. In order for this to occur, however, interoperability is essential. An infrastructure must be implemented that will allow applications to work without the necessity of the patient, trainee or clinician/researcher purchasing a separate peripheral device, specific computer or software package to run each app.
As Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said in a September 2012 interview on the EU Commission’s strategy on cloud computing, good reasons to be in the cloud include interoperability, data portability and reversibility. After the interoperability hurdle has been surmounted by the adoption of cloud computing, the prices of apps can come down as development costs shrink. Secure protocols for transmission of patient data in the cloud are coming online. Therefore, the primary remaining barrier to adoption will be clinician training and patient education, in which the EU has the opportunity to play an important role.
The full article can be read here: From Clinical to Cloud – Dr_B.Wiederhold
EU “eHealth in Focus” Newspaper mentions Cyber18!
Direct Extract:
“From 30 June until 2 July 2013, the 18th Annual CyberPsychology & CyberTherapy Conference will take place. Topics include: electronic health coaching, using virtual reality in treatments (for example after hand surgery), the new EU research program Horizon 2020, virtual body swapping and advanced technologies in the assessment and evaluation of psychological stress.

CYBER18 has grown to a full-scale conference with presentations that demonstrate controlled clinical trials with unique applications of cutting edge technologies that improve the access and increase the quality of healthcare.

Prominent academic representatives from Europe, North America, and Asia will serve as Scientific Chairs and on its Scientific Committee.

Note in your agenda:

July 1 – Conference Day 1

Keynote Address: Robert Madelin (Director-General for DG CONNECT): “Cyber Everything in Horizon 2020”

July 2 – Conference Day 2

Innovations in Health and Well-Being – Chairs: Terje Peetso and Peteris Zilgalvis

“ICT to Prevent Citizens From Becoming Patients” – Peteris Zilgalvis (Head of Unit, ICT for Health and Wellbeing, DG CONNECT)

The EU funded INTERSTRESS Project: “Advanced Technologies in the Assessment and Evaluation of Psychological Stress” – Prof. Andrea Gaggioli, Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Italy

European Commission Funding Program: Francois Junique (Project Officer, DG CONNECT, Flagship unit) will present  “The Human Brain project” (HBP).

Find the full program of the conference here.”


Original link can be found here

Belgian Economic Mission to the United States

Brussels, Belgium (June 11, 2013) — The Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC) was selected to participate in the recent Belgian Economic Mission to the United States, organized by the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency in collaboration with the regional institutions Wallonia Foreign Trade & Investment Agency, Brussels Invest & Export, and Flanders Investment & Trade and FPS Foreign Affairs. The event, held from June 2 to June 9, 2013, was presided over by the Prince Philippe of Belgium, and consisted of 393 participants, bring together companies from various business sectors to expand their influence to the U.S. and promote trade between Belgium and the U.S.

Virtual Reality Medical Center uses simulation technologies in three main areas: 1) treating patients with stress, anxiety, and trauma, 2) training for military medical and civilian populations, and 3) enhancing medical educational programs. A Belgian corporation established in December 2006 with affiliates in the U.S. and China, VRMC principals are world leaders in applying VR technology in combination with physiological monitoring and feedback fro training, therapy, and emerging applications. We are also focused on developing a comprehensive protocol to address an array of needs for military personnel and civilian first responders as well as emerging technologies for various security and intelligence operations. Having been involved in R&D projects in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. for the past 25 years, we have won over 50 competitive government contracts and look now towards marketing the developed products and protocols.


Representing VRMC on the mission were Prof. Dr. Brenda Wiederhold, President, and Prof. Dr. Mark Wiederhold, Director of Clinical Research.