I first started using second life 14 years ago when I found out my fiancé had cheated on me (I made him move out), I had no car (long story which we will get into later), and due to a friendly football game I caught my foot in a gopher hole making me pretty much incapacitated for 9 months. I had to have two screws and two pins inserted into my Lisfranc joint with bone from my ankle plugged in there to fuse. It was so painful. What was also painful was the lack of support I had at my disposal. I remember trying to walk with my crutches and boot to my podiatrist appointment and some kind soul stopped and gave me a ride. My mom found out about my surgery (original injury November 2006) date of surgery January 7th 2007, and flew home instead of staying two extra days to be with me/give me a ride to surgery. (My family dynamics are another topic we can get into later, but lets just say I am not the golden child but the loathed scapegoat).
Anyway Second Life became my only social outlet and kept me entertained and sane. So when I was offered a Research Assistant position on a study for physically disabled women to be facilitated in Second Life I couldn’t believe my luck. I had just moved from California to Montana (my foot was finally healed) and they happened to need someone with all the skills I had acquired during one of the bleakest periods of my life. All things happen for a reason.
Here is a synopsis of that particular study:
Margaret A. Nosek, Baylor College of Medicine
Susan Robinson Whelen, Baylor College of Medicine
Rosemary B. Hughes, University of Montana – MissoulaFollow
Erin Porcher, University of Montana – Missoula
Thomas M. Nosek, Case Western Reserve University
Journal of Virtual Worlds Research
University of Texas at Austin
We are developing and investigating the feasibility of a self-esteem enhancement intervention in Second Life for women with physical disabilities. We adapted the curriculum of a previously tested workshop intervention to include features unique to this environment. Results of the beta test were very positive. Everyone involved showed considerable enthusiasm for exploring the new world of SL. The group leaders were challenged to resolve technical problems on every occasion, but these diminished and were perceived as manageable as the intervention progressed. Beta testers gave positive ratings to the information presented, organization, and usefulness of the intervention and found it very enjoyable although fatigue and stress limited the participation of some. They appreciated the use of Internet technology as an accommodation to their disability, in place of requiring transportation and additional energy expenditure to attend face-to-face meetings. Research issues related to engagement, measurement, and participant safety, as well as future research directions, are discussed. We conclude that SL has great potential for delivering health promotion interventions to women with physical disabilities.
©2011 The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research
Creative Commons License
Since then I have consulted on a new Second Life study just this year involving self-esteem and women with severe spinal cord injury with TIRR Memorial Hermann, and University of Montana, Rural Institute. The women I work with are amazing and being able to work on something that I know works and teach others the many possibilities of both Second Life and the Research program is hands down the best most meaningful “job” I could hope for. I will tell you about some other awesome projects I have worked on in due course, but wanted to share the Second Life post now because with Covid lockdowns maybe, just maybe, you might take a look and decide to join this virtual world where millions of people login daily. No this is not a paid endorsement and I don’t have any other motive than to perhaps help even one person experiencing depression, anxiety, loneliness or despair. Please check it out, it is free to join!