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A Spanish company, a beneficiary of the SME Instrument (phase 1 and phase 2), has developed a virtual reality platform for the diagnosis of mental conditions that create immersive environments. The platform can provide the patients with a combination of multiple stimuli and can also measure real-time multiple data generated by the patients’ reactions to the latter. The company looks for a partner to do, under a collaboration research, the neuropsychological test via the VR platform.
Mental disorders and neurological conditions affect at least a 20% of the worldwide population during a lifetime. A new system for the evaluation of mental disorders, based on the use of virtual reality (VR) environments has been developed. This technology is able to clinically validate and perform innovative diagnosis procedures that simply couldn’t be done up to now. The patient wears virtual reality glasses and headphones and is introduced into different virtual environments, each one specifically designed to diagnose a particular family of mental disorders. Through these virtual environments, the patient experiences multiple expected and unexpected stimuli, is proposed to execute different actions and asked to respond to different questions. At the same time, the system monitors the reactions of the patient and registers multiple variables.
The product is an H2020-SMEInst-2016-2017 project granted to a Spanish company in 2016. The aim of this project is to prove both clinically and commercially, the higher performance of virtual reality environment based diagnosis systems for mental disorders. The product is meant for children and adults and can be validated by anyone who will use it.
Four different tests have to be gone through: one is already developed and in the market), the other three are in the development stage in Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 8, 7 and 6 respectively) for the evaluation of the attention, executive function, memory and mild cognitive impairment, respectively.
Normative and clinical studies of these tests will be carried out in collaboration with relevant peers internationally in USA, Latin America and other European countries. Normative studies will be held in order to establish a normal curve in the execution of the test with the objective to represent the population in which the measurement is going to be used, and from which the rules that will be used in the diagnosis will be extracted. The study assesses if each subject is within the rule or not, and in its case in which parameters differs and how much. The whole set of operations, questions, interruptions and virtual environment, and the responses of the patients are clinically studied and included in the normative studies developed for the validation, standardization and homologation by practitioners’, scientific and health authorities, exactly like what is done in the case of conventional tests. On the other hand, the clinical studies are performed over people with different pathologies that validate the test in regions, cultural groups, situations or any grouping of people.
The studies can measure the accuracy of the test, validity, sensibility and specificity for detection of pathologies.
For the achievement of these studies both clinicians currently in practice of their profession and other socio-sanitary professionals from USA, Latin America and Europe should be involved in the project.
The partner should be interested in the assessment of the cognitive processes with a virtual reality system. Two profiles with different tasks are requested to the partners, one for the normative studies and the other for the clinical studies. Research collaboration agreement is sought.
The product offers the following advantages and innovations:
Ecological validity of the diagnosis protocols run under the product, leading to higher accuracy. Clinical evidence has demonstrated that the virtual reality environments simulated are powerful enough to create a solid correlation between diagnosis results and daily life response of patients.
Scientifically demonstrated capacity for the correlation of multiple diagnosis variables. Unlike the conventional tests, the product is simultaneously registering multiple diagnosis variables at the same time. The introduction of time as a solid and accurately measured variable allows clinically ground correlations between variables. This makes possible, among other issues, to accurately measure the affection level of a disorder in a particular patient, what is not possible or extremely difficult with conventional tests.
Capacity to diagnose complete set or families of mental disorders within the same product. Each conventional test is usually designed and validated to measure a single disorder or even a single variable into the diagnosis process of a single disorder. On the contrary, each virtual reality environment of the product has the capacity to diagnose different related disorders within the same product.
The problem and opportunity for the product are derived from the particular nature of mental disorders and the limitations of conventional diagnosing methods. Two remarkable particularities of mental disorders are:
The impossibility to diagnose them through physical or chemical parameters. The only way to diagnose a mental disorder is measuring the reactions of the patient to questions, images, sounds or other stimuli.
The dependence of the reactions of the patient to the surrounding environment. The response of the same person to a question will be different depending on the other stimuli hitting the target from the environment such us distracting sounds, images on movement, interruptions by others
According to the type of study, two profiles with different tasks are requested to the partners:
For the normative studies: Any professional from the socio-sanitary sector dealing with people without mental disorder pathologies. Their task will be to carry out a neuropsychological evaluation with the system (with one or several of the tests, depending on their profiles, capacities and interests) with people with pathologies.
For the clinical studies: Clinicians dealing with mental disorders. Their task will be to carry out a neuropsychological evaluation with the system (with one or several of the tests, depending on their profiles, capacities and interests) with people without pathologies.
In general, the partner should be interested in the assessment of the cognitive processes with a virtual reality system.
The compensation for the participation in these studies will be the system: Hardware (Samsung Gear VR Goggles, Samsung Galaxy S7 Smartphone and Flic Bluetooth button) and Software of the 4 different tests. Also, the scientific publications of the studies will be done in collaboration.