The 2017 USI Wellness Fair was a huge success once again! Wednesday, September 27 saw Carter Hall fill with students, faculty and staff visiting various booths set up for fun and informative interaction. At the Wellness Fair, attendees were treated to various free health screenings, valuable information on health and wellness, and even some giveaways and treats! The grand prize for visiting six vendor booths with blue balloons attached were a pair of Skullcandy Smokin' Buds2 wireless Bluetooth earbuds, and someone was very lucky to win those! Additionally, popcorn, plants and other little goodies were given away so that you could fill a grab bag full of fun stuff. Flu shots were even available for all who attended!
In the Health Informatics and Information Management program, we took things a step further and incorporated a survey and collection of relevant data into a fun activity using Virtual Reality. Participants would sit down and have their blood pressure and heart rate measured before taking a pre-Virtual Reality survey detailing their current levels of stress. Upon completion of the survey, they would then choose a Virtual Reality scene to relax in (including a beach or forest theme!), and the sounds and pictures of the scene would play for approximately 90 seconds. Once the Virtual Reality session finished, the participant would complete a final post-Virtual Reality survey as well as have their blood pressure and heart rate taken again.
Aiming to have a positive impact on the health of millions of people that suffer complications caused by the long-term activation of the biological stress response mechanisms, VitaEscapes app was developed by Dr. Gabriela Mustata Wilson and one of her former Health Informatics students, Eduardo Peixoto. The app contains relaxing virtual reality (VR) environments and relaxing sounds that offer a parasympathetic stimulation resulting in reduced cortisol levels, heart rate and others biological stress responses. Use of the VitaEscapes app was met with rave reviews, including a couple of these post-survey statements from fair attendees:
"VitaEscapes app was a very beneficial app in creating a relaxing and semi-relistic environment."
"The VitaEscapes app reminded me of why I want to pursue a career in health care."
Students that helped conduct the study had some great insight on the reactions of participants and the findings of the event, including this excerpt:
"I learned that most people came off more relaxed after the Virtual Reality experiment. Not only from the results of the blood pressure and heart rate, but also their body language and posture was not so anxious after the experience of the VR. We were in a high energy environment, all the freebies, all the information, or even getting shots, everyone seemed anxious and energized. After their participation, they relaxed a lot. There was one participant that had her blood pressure go up after the VR, and she admitted that she chose wrong on the VR, not realixing how high the mountain on the lake was."
Stay connected to this page and our social media network as we continue to review this year's Wellness Fair and get ready for 2018! Thank you to all who participated in our study. Your contributions are greatly appreciated and valued!