Using Virtual Reality and Sensor Technology to Enhance Treatment for Binge Eating
Stephanie Manasse , Assistant Research Professor, WELL Center
Adrienne Juarascio, PhD, Assistant Professor, WELL Center
Evan Forman, Professor, WELL Center
Jichen Zhu, PhD, Associate Professor, Digital Media
Jim Weimer, PhD, Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Binge eating (BE) is a major public health problem that is associated with profound emotional distress, obesity, and approximately $260 million/year in health care costs. Unfortunately, of those who have access to the gold standard treatment, more than 50% remain symptomatic. Low rates of remission are likely attributable to deficits in a cognitive capacity – inhibitory control (i.e., the ability to withhold an automatic behavioral response) – that are not addressed by standard treatment. There is an urgent need for solutions that (1) increase access to effective treatment; and (2) can enhance the outcomes of standard interventions. “Serious games” that aim to enhance cognitive processes such as inhibitory control (i.e., inhibitory control trainings; ICTs) are an ideal vehicle for enhancing outcomes. Furthermore, a virtual reality (VR) ICT may confer especially strong benefits. Our team has completed a prototype VR ICT system for BED, TakeControlVR. Our preliminary market analyses have indicated several promising commercialization opportunities for such a system. In this proposal, we describe a one-year plan to accomplish the following: (1) Further developing the TakeControlVR prototype; (2) evaluate the effectiveness, perceived usefulness, and user satisfaction of TakeControlVR for patients with binge eating in a clinical trial; (3) Develop a comprehensive commercialization plan for TakeControlVR. We will also describe how we will collect additional pilot data to validate a non-invasive and inexpensive continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device which will support a separate but complementary commercialization opportunity.