The pandemic has been a boon for some areas of the XR industry and disastrous for others. Whilst there’s increased interest in virtual reality (VR), especially where remote collaboration is concerned, location-based entertainment (LBE) venues and other in-person locations have had no choice but to shutter. Some have been able to bounce back, others haven’t been so lucky. VR Therapies falls into the latter bracket, a multisensory VR centre for children with special needs and adults with disabilities that’s currently running a crowdfunding campaign to stay open.
Based in Northampton, UK, VR Therapies is the brainchild of ex-learning disabilities nurse Rebecca Gill who founded the innovative enterprise back in 2018. Built to provide a range of therapies such as taking those too poorly to walk swimming with dolphins, allowing people with dementia to wander down memory lane, alleviating anxiety or simply enabling someone to head to a bucket list location somewhere in the world; all that work in now in jeopardy.
VR Therapies features a lot of specialist equipment designed in-house so that its VR experiences are fully accessible and inclusive to those that need them.
Explaining the scale of the problem on the Crowdfunder website, Gill says: “After securing financing, premises, equipment and renovating the centre we were locked down! Staff couldn’t work and we couldn’t open. With no income, bills and debts started to pile up. From the landlord to suppliers, utilities and providers, banks and funders, they all wanted payment. Nearly 2 years of bills and debt built up while we were locked down.
“We weren’t eligible for government support as we hadn’t even opened yet and banks refused to give us a loan as we couldn’t yet demonstrate “profitability”. Now we have no money left to open. We will no longer be able to help people with VR therapy and very soon we’ll be forced to go bankrupt.”
Those that are interested in supporting VR Therapies can donate any amount they like but there are special reward tiers on the Crowdfunder website. These start from £15 GBP, entering you into a raffle to win a 25% discount off any therapy session. Increase that to £20 and you could enter a competition to win an Oculus Quest 2! Or for those feeling generous who want to see it all, the £250 tier gives you two hours of unlimited use of the entire centre, great for a VR party.
This does all hinge on VR Therapies raising the required £15,000 to stay open, of which it has managed to raise just over £4k so far.
While VR hydrotherapy is very unique, there have been numerous use cases of VR used for mental and physical therapies. Oxford VR raised millions towards developing immersive therapies, while Rendever has built a platform around helping seniors overcome social isolation.
Hopefully, VR Therapies’ fundraiser will meet with success. For continued updates on the latest XR healthcare developments, keep reading VRFocus.