Thera Inc., a health-care startup based in Oakland, California, has partnered with the Shenandoah Center for Immersive Learning (SCiL) at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, in a key step toward the launch of its virtual reality telehealth software designed to provide psychotherapy for children.
Thera founder and CEO Erin Bogdanski and Chief Technology Officer Bryan Dennstedt are teaming up with Mohammad Obeid, Ph.D., co-director of SCiL and director of augmented reality/virtual reality (B.S.) at Shenandoah University, to develop TheraVR™ version 1.0 this summer.
The partnership between Thera and SU and the resulting VR software will bridge the gap between extended reality (XR) in health care and psychiatric and psychological telehealth services available for children, teens and young adults. TheraVR will be available in all 50 states this fall and will allow for cross-border counseling to improve access to mental health care and alleviate challenges posed by the shortage of health-care providers in hospital systems and community clinics nationwide.
TheraVR’s ability to allow providers to meet with their patients remotely in virtual spaces will prove particularly useful in pediatric psychotherapy, as therapists are able to meet with their young patients in a setting that children may find less intimidating than a standard office setting and more interactive than a traditional video conference.
“The benefits of our technology are that we can truly improve patient outcomes with cognitive, behavioral, neurological, physical and psychological change within a telehealth experience,” Dr. Bogdanski said. “This partnership with the innovation lab at Shenandoah will allow TheraVR to continue the evolution, refinement and preparation for the breakthrough new XR technologies coming to market. This is a very exciting opportunity for us, and we are honored to support the SCiL Lab and the future academia of programs in XR health care.”
The Thera-SU partnership will also foster the development of a long-term plan to cultivate curriculum and programs that will enhance the educational experience for Shenandoah University students involved with the SCiL Lab who are focused on extended reality in medicine, neuroscience, and health-care-related virtual reality applications.
“Extended reality adoption in the medical field has continued to increase over the past decade, and this partnership is a step toward employing this technology for psychotherapy and telehealth,” Dr. Obeid said. “We are pleased to form this partnership with Thera to reciprocate impactful academic, scholarly and public health benefits.”