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Digital Minister Sees How Virtual Reality Solves Babies’ Feeding Difficulties

Digital Engagement Minister Tom Watson today, Tuesday 28th April, visited the WMG Digital Lab at the University of Warwick to see how researchers are using virtual reality to help parents of babies cope with feeding problems.

Feeding problems in a child’s first few months often leads to medical problems in childhood and later life. Helping parents feed their children well could save the NHS millions in preventable illnesses and treatments.

 Scientists at the WMG Digital Lab at the University of Warwick have now developed a virtual reality system that will give new parents of newborn children the chance to get "virtual experience" of how babies with feeding difficulties cry, move and behave when seeking attention, food or comfort. The research, which is based on extensive work with paediatricians and clinical psychologists, simulates baby behaviours so that stressed parents can gain a better understanding of what their baby is feeling, and what they can then do to help their baby feed more easily.

 WMG Professor Alan Chalmers said:

“These Virtual Reality based Enhanced Cognitive Behaviour Therapy systems offer many advantages over traditional methods of treatment for an abundance of disorders. They have been shown to substantially reduce the length of treatment and reduce relapse rates. This system will help parents and health care professionals work together to quickly get an insight into the problems of, and possible solutions for, young babies with feeding problems.”

WMG’s Director Professor Lord  Kumar Bhattacharyya showed the Digital Engagement Minister how researchers in The University’s Digital Lab are using digital technologies to train surgeons via virtual surgery technology, and to create software that will help combat child obesity.

 Tom Watson, Minister for Digital Engagement said:

 “I was really impressed to see how Warwick University has embraced the digital agenda and is working hard to share the latest research and cutting-edge technology with local businesses.

“This is an industry in which Britain leads the way internationally and we need to ensure we harness potential and help support the sector during these difficult economic times.

 “I have seen some excellent examples of innovative work in the Digital Laboratory which will help industry in the West Midlands revolutionise the way they work and will provide solutions to key issues through digital technology.

“The government can learn from the pioneering research and exciting ideas which are being developed at Warwick University, for example in e-business and e-security, which can be adopted for our own digital engagement strategy and to improve the delivery of public services.”

For further information please contact:

Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager
Communications Office, University House,
University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 8UW, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)24 76 523708  Mobile/Cell:  +44 (0)7767 655860
Twitter:   @PeterJDunn

 PR37 28th April 2009