Duke’s virtual reality world tackles diabetes - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Duke’s virtual reality world tackles diabetes

Posted: Updated:
DURHAM, N.C. -

Diabetes is an ongoing epidemic in the United State. More than 18 million people have the disease and more than 79 million people are predisposed to it.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and researchers at Duke University School of Nursing are coming up with innovative ways to help people with diabetes manage their chronic illness.

They invented a virtual reality world to help diabetics make better decisions about their health.

It might look like a video game, but it's a virtual world created for one purpose.

"It's a social network with people who have the same type of diseases," said Constance Johnson, associate professor at Duke University's School of Nursing.

That disease is type 2 diabetes.

"In our virtual world, there's a book store, there's a gym, there's a grocery store, and there's a restaurant," said Johnson.

This virtual world is a pilot study. It gives type 2 diabetic patients a special avatar, one users can use to talk to other people with diabetes. It also helps them manage their diseases.

"If you go into the grocery store and you want potato chips, nutritional information comes out of the potato chips," said Johnson.

Louis Lyons is 72 years old and was part of the pilot study. She said, "I thought it was fun as well as informative."

Lyons said it helps her make smarter choices. Her favorite part, though, is the community.

"I love being in contact with other people similar to me and I found out that a lot of people are worse off than me," said Lyons.

Allison Vorderstrasse is an assistant professor at the Duke School of Nursing. She said, "Right now there are about 25 million people who are affected by it."

Vorderstrasse one of the co-creators of this virtual world and said it's all about a holistic approach to the disease. The hardest part is changing people's habits. This alternative reality tackles just that.

"The part that we were really focused on was how to help people live with it," said Vorderstrasse.

The pilot study showed that virtual reality has the potential to help patients manage their diabetes. As a result of the success of the pilot study, the School of Nursing Researchers were awarded a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand their study to 300 participants in the next five years. 

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

  • Durham CountyMore>>

  • DURHAM: New DA Echols sworn into office

    New Durham DA Echols sworn into office

    New Durham DA Echols sworn into office

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:57 AM EDT2014-09-02 15:57:24 GMT
    Durham's new district attorney will be sworn into office publicly Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m.
    Durham's new district attorney will be sworn into office publicly Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m.
  • Michael Brown forum at Duke stirs emotions

    Michael Brown forum at Duke stirs emotions

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:49 AM EDT2014-09-02 15:49:15 GMT
    Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family pictureduring a news conference Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family pictureduring a news conference Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
    Duke University professors lead a panel discussion about race, the role of police and how social media coverage of street protests in Ferguson Missouri shaped the Michael Brown shooting death story.
    Duke University professors lead a panel discussion about race, the role of police and how social media coverage of street protests in Ferguson Missouri shaped the Michael Brown shooting death story.
  • Granville Co. farmer donates 'ugly' corn to local charities

    Granville Co. farmer donates 'ugly' corn to local charities

    Saturday, August 30 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-30 21:48:11 GMT
    Nearly $3,000 worth of corn was donated to the Produce Box by farmer Gary Fuller, of Granville County.Nearly $3,000 worth of corn was donated to the Produce Box by farmer Gary Fuller, of Granville County.
    Rather than throw away thousands of ears of "ugly but good" corn, foiled after very wet summer, a local farmer chose to donate them to the needy.
    Rather than throw away thousands of ears of "ugly but good" corn, foiled after very wet summer, a local farmer chose to donate them to the needy.
  • NewsMore>>

  • 2 men in prison for 30 years seek new trial in NC

    2 men in prison for 30 years seek new trial in NC

    Family members of two half-brothers cried when the men entered the packed Robeson County court room hoping that their three decades-long imprisonment may soon come to an end.
    Family members of two half-brothers cried when the men entered the packed Robeson County court room hoping that their three decades-long imprisonment may soon come to an end.
  • New cricket spreading in NC, NC State researchers say

    New cricket spreading in NC, NC State researchers say

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 12:30 PM EDT2014-09-02 16:30:42 GMT
    Researchers from N.C. State University finds that non-native camel cricket species have spread into homes across the eastern United States.
    Researchers from N.C. State University finds that non-native camel cricket species have spread into homes across the eastern United States.
  • Paratrooper meets daughter as Fort Bragg soldiers return

    Paratrooper meets daughter as Fort Bragg soldiers return

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 12:06 PM EDT2014-09-02 16:06:19 GMT
    Families wait at Fort Bragg for the return of paratroopers with the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry. (Brandon Herring, WNCN)Families wait at Fort Bragg for the return of paratroopers with the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry. (Brandon Herring, WNCN)
    More than 100 paratroopers assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg returned from Afghanistan Monday afternoon.
    More than 100 paratroopers assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg returned from Afghanistan Monday afternoon.

Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.