A paper published in the November/December 2010 issue of Rehabilitation Nursing, published by the Association of Rehabilitation Nursing, has found that use of the virtual world Second Life improves quality of life for users suffering from disabilities. The paper’s authors are Stephanie Stewart, Timothy A. Carey, and Terri S. Hansen.

“The avatar can manipulate objects and participate in day-to-day activities that most people take for granted, such as walking, dancing, and communicating. SL provides benefits to people with disabilities such as information, socialization, and community membership. SL communities, groups, and activities help increase feelings of self-worth and empowerment,” said the report.

The paper says that users are able to interact with other users and learn from mentors despite any obstacles usually posed by a particular disability. A disabled user may choose to create an avatar that shares their disabilities or create something different, in addition to choosing their mode of travel from an array of options including walking, flight, or teleportation.

“In addition, people with disabilities who are unable to work in the real world may be able to find work or volunteer in SL. SL 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,” said the report’s conclusion.

[via Newswise]

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