The founder of Spin Up company EmotEd LLC, which seeks a novel approach in treating emotional disorders linked to traumatic brain injuries (TBI), joined a host of presenters earlier this week in Washington, D.C., at a conference held by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Research and Development.
Dawn Neumann was among more than 300 of the nation’s top TBI researchers attending the VA’s State-of-the-Art (SOTA) Conference, which took place Monday and Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. According to the VA, the event’s short-term objective was to identify what is — and is not — known about TBI screening, treatment, management and rehabilitation. It sought to develop a research agenda, strategies and recommendations to address gaps in knowledge, with the long-term goal of identifying best practices to improve the quality of life for veterans with TBI.
An assistant research professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Neumann — through collaboration with IUSM faculty, IU’s School of Informatics and Computing and Broad Ripple-based DeveloperTown — has developed Emotion Builder, a video-based, role-playing simulator designed to treat disorders that stem from alexithymia, or difficulties in recognizing emotion.
Developed in part through a $194,575 federal grant and $50,000 in matching funds from Elevate Ventures, Emotion Builder also may have applications for stroke patients, people with autism, schizophrenia sufferers and military veterans who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
So far, five patients have been treated with Emotion Builder, with three other patients currently in the program, Neumann said via e-mail last week. But changes to its initial design has Neumann discouraging earlier descriptions that likened Emotion Builder to a video game:
“So far, outcomes are looking good. Satisfaction feedback is high. Most people still refer to this as a video game, but it’s not what most people consider a ‘game’ and it’s not virtual reality with avatars. Parts of it have live-action videos that simulate emotional situations and provide patients an opportunity to practice skills we taught them in the earlier sessions.”
— EmotEd founder Dawn Neumann
Recruitment of subjects for initial studies is ongoing at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, where Neumann serves on the clinical research faculty. To learn more about alexithymia, its link to TBI and patient comments on Emotion Builder’s effectiveness, click the research poster below: