Hopebridge and Akiva Partner for Virtual Reality Additive Design Clinical Pilots

First-of-its-kind research to advance therapeutic benefits for applied behavior analysis, autism therapies

Hopebridge using virtual reality for therapy advancements

Child using virtual reality headset
Child using virtual reality headset

Indianapolis, Nov. 21, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers, the largest autism therapy healthcare provider in the nation, is advancing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research through groundbreaking new virtual reality additive design pilots. Hopebridge’s clinical pilots will implement VR within applied behavior analysis (ABA therapy) programs in several centers across the country.

Hopebridge’s pilots will utilize Akiva, an immersive virtual reality learning experience that combines gaming with artificial intelligence to create a predictable learning ecosystem that enables children with special needs to develop sensory, cognitive, perceptual and fine motor skills. Hopebridge’s employment of Akiva through Oculus Quest VR headsets will allow clinicians to monitor and record the additive benefits of VR paired with applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy to enhance the rate of acquisition of behavior skills in children with autism.

Leading the study is Hopebridge Chief Science Officer, Dr. Adam Hahs. “Virtual reality holds tremendous potential to both enhance and improve the way we deliver care to our patients,” said Dr. Hahs. “Our partnership with Akiva demonstrates our commitment to innovation and the growing digital therapeutic market. Our clinicians are empowered to utilize customized technology, infrastructure and research solutions to accelerate critical early intervention for patient development.”

While the applicability of VR was never in question, the reach is soon to be realized given the recent announcement of a billing code for services affording families this opportunity. With payor recognition of VR, families will be able to access a treatment in ABA that is the gold standard in the health care vertical.

The clinical pilots with Akiva will focus on studying an in-center VR therapy program, with Akiva software collecting data and patient outcomes. The cloud-based software will provide real-time data tracking for clinical outcomes including:

  • Labeling objects, numbers, and letters
  • Speech production and articulation
  • Social skills
  • Vestibular and proprioceptive awareness
  • Eye tracking and joint attention
  • Speed ​​of response (latency)

“At Akiva, our vision is to enable neurodivergent individuals to learn, self-explore, and thrive on developing their unique abilities,” said Akiva CEO Alexander Landa. “The proliferation of virtual reality and machine learning has expanded the ways in which companies like Hopebridge can provide care that is safe, immersive, and fun to the recipients, while data-driven, objective improvements are shared with all members of the ecosystem. Akiva is working closely with Hopebridge to refine and develop the platform functionality blueprint that will revolutionize early intervention.”

Data tracking for phase one pilots will inform the execution and delivery of phase two, which consists of a wide-scale, randomized controlled trial (RCT) to be launched across the entire Hopebridge footprint in 2023.

In March, the organization announced a new clinical division with executive appointments to support initiatives for enhancing clinical outcomes and an increasing value-based care model. Dr. Hahs was appointed Chief Science Officer for the organization, charged with driving the multi-state organization towards enhanced clinical outcomes, value-based healthcare, research initiatives and clinical innovation.

Dr. Hahs also leads Hopebridge’s participation in the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM), as well as heading up exclusive continuing education opportunities for clinicians like PEAK training. Hahs has been fundamental in the development of one of the largest clinical supervision programs in the industry, the Hopebridge Fellowship Program, as well as driving strategies for large internal and external research initiatives in the behavioral health space.

For more information on Hopebridge centers and services, visit hopebridge.com/centers.

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About Hopebridge

Hopebridge was founded in 2005 to serve the growing need for autism treatment services and to improve the lives of affected children and families. Hopebridge is committed to providing personalized outpatient ABA, occupational, speech and feeding therapies for children affected by autism spectrum disorder and behavioral, physical, social, communication and sensory challenges. Hopebridge provides a trusted place where they can receive the care, support and hope they deserve.

More than a decade later, Hopebridge continues to open state-of-the-art autism therapy centers in new communities to reach patients and families who need services. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Hopebridge operates over 100 centers in the following twelve states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio and Tennessee.

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CONTACT: Samantha Sandala Hirons (608) 575-2784 ssandala@hirons.com 

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