The Virtual Patient
Working with the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, the USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) is currently developing a human avatar known as the Virtual Patient (VP). The program’s first VP — Staff Sergeant Alamar Castilla, a fictitious Marine — is an artificially intelligent simulation of a veteran who has been exposed to combat stress. This first application of virtual reality in a social work setting is used to help prepare students to interact with real clients.
Castilla, who has been programmed utilizing voice recognition technology and human voice recordings, can emulate the symptoms of a number of a clinical conditions, including depression and post-traumatic stress, and respond to a student’s open-ended questions that might be used in therapy. The realistic role-playing allows students to hone their clinical skills.