For millions of enthusiasts worldwide, visiting the virtual world of Second Life (SL) on the Internet is simply entertainment. But for a growing population of people with disabilities, the same digital world improves their quality of life, according to the authors of an article in the November/December issue of Rehabilitation Nursing.
“In the digital world of Second Life, people with disabilities have a chance to experience life beyond the limitations of their disabilities,” authors Stephanie Stewart, PhD, RN, professor of nursing and director of nursing innovation at the College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, Timothy A. Carey, BA, owner of Golden Fire Computer Productions and Terri S. Hansen, MSN RN, academic staff member at the College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, wrote in a press release.
Newcomers to this free, virtual world immediately experience a sense of community. There are numerous mentors who help new users navigate through the virtual world and introduce them to social and therapeutic opportunities.
“Nurses caring for patients in a rehabilitation setting can use SL as an enrichment tool to help disabled, chronically ill and convalescing patients improve their overall quality of life and enhance their physical, emotional and social adjustment,” the authors wrote. “It could become part of a rehabilitation plan for people with disabilities, enabling patients to learn more about their own conditions, health and wellbeing and resources available to enhance their quality of life. In addition, people with disabilities who are unable to work in the real world may be able to find work or volunteer in SL. It offers people with disabilities a chance to explore new worlds without the limitations of their disabilities, offering them hope and promoting a higher level of emotional functioning. There are unlimited possibilities for how SL can be used in the rehabilitation of patients.”