NTX Magazine Volume 9 - Page 58

HEALTHCARE INNOVATIONS MyndVR is a Dallas-based health and wellness company founded by Chris Bickler and Shawn Wiora that provides virtual reality solutions for seniors in continuum of care retirement communities, 55+ living communities and home-health care providers. The company is curating a vast library of VR content, creating a portfolio of recreational, prescriptive and on-demand therapies that offer a promising future into cognitive health and wellness for our dynamic and aging population. Ryan McMahan, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), has teamed with the innovators at MyndVR to provide VR content aimed at senior citizens — a largely neglected audience within the primarily youth-targeted medium. “There are three ideas behind what VR experiences allow these users,” Dr. McMahan said. “Either they’ll see something they’ve experienced before, which could bring about memories; experience a place they’ve never seen before, which engages the brain; or experience something that’s completely impossible — the unique domain of virtual reality.” McMahan first partnered with MyndVR in 2016 and recently joined its advisory board. Students in his graduate virtual reality course created three distinct virtual environment prototypes for MyndVR’s target audience. They include a nightclub complete with a spectrum, quality-of-life approach across a network of more than 50 long-term care and retirement facilities. “Our product road map envisions three tiers of content,” Brickler said. “The first layer is recreational content — going to the Great Wall, swimming with dolphins and the like. Next would be therapeutic content — music, nature and brain exercises. The top level, the uncharted water, is prescriptive digital therapy. MyndVR’s goal is to provide virtual reality content customized to a user’s diagnosis. That’s why we’re so excited about working with UTD on not only the development of the VR, but also the cognitive implications.” In conducting MyndVR’s trials in Kansas, Florida, California and Texas — working with more than 250 seniors from ages 70 to 100 — the team has seen the extreme emotions that these programs can evoke. Brian Barnes, CFO/COO of The Legacy Senior Communities, observed these effects during a trial the team conducted at Willow Bend, a continuing care retirement community in Plano. “The MyndVR trial demonstrated a variety of benefits,” Barnes said. “In one case, a resident living with Alzheimer’s exhibited personality traits she had prior to the diagnosis, including dancing, smiling and singing. Another resident felt relief from symptoms of Parkinson’s. The overall response has impressed everyone involved.” they went somewhere,” Ariel Comstock, the student- turned-employee who worked with the seniors, said. “For people who are not as agile as they once were, it can give them a sense of confidence, of agency — they choose where they want to go and then go there.” For residents of senior living communities, a glance at a universe of experiences beyond their own walls can make a world of difference. For North Texas, unique corporate-academic partnerships will continue to leverage the best of brains and business to make a difference for people across the world. North Texas Genome Center to Provide Insight for Precision Care The ability to rapidly sequence genomes, DNA and RNA is providing doctors, scientists and engineers critical new tools that are changing the way doctors treat patients. Whole genome sequencing is becoming the foundation for precision health, a rapidly growing field that examines differences in people’s genetic makeup to provide more personalized and effective healthcare solutions. The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), in partnership with the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC), is bringing massive genome sequencing capabilities to North Texas through the launch of the North Texas Genome Center, housed on the UTA campus. “The opening of this new center is wonderful news for Tarrant County and will bring a real boost to our local economy,” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said at the center’s launch. “By bringing together the science, engineering and nursing expertise of UTA with the biomedical research experience of UNTHSC, this new center will be able to produce innovative healthcare solutions with a real positive impact on patients.” live singer, an immersive sudoku game set above a koi pond, and a set of serene day and night environments, ranging from mountains, lakes and beaches to the Taj Mahal. MyndVR has not only broadened the horizons for senior citizens, but also students involved in the project, one of whom was hired by MyndVR to coordinate trials at facilities across the country. The North Texas Genome Center offers academic and corporate researchers lower costs and faster service for human whole genome sequencing as compared to other genomics labs. The center will be critical for research in drug development, disease prevention, cancer treatments and fundamental aspects of genetics. Chris Brickler, co-founder and CEO of MyndVR, said his company’s initial intention was to focus on a broad- “MyndVR transports a viewer mentally away for the duration of the experience, and they finish feeling like The North Texas Genome Center features five NovaSeq6000 gene sequencing systems, which VR offers Alzheimer’s patients an opportunity to experience familiar places and memories 56 WWW.NTC-DFW.ORG SUMMER 2018 HEALTH CARE IS IN OUR DNA. Our graduates are changing things for good . A legacy of leadership in health care, TWU has developed talented, caring professionals committed to excellence. Occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, nurses and nutritionists are just some of our alumni who are leading the charge in North Texas. If you’re looking to help make a positive impact, look no further than TWU. Boldly Go. CHS@twu.edu | 940-898-2852 twu.edu