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The Kusnacht Practice Podcast #005: Interview with Raluca Babota on the effectiveness of virtual reality and Limbic Chairs in the treatment of mental health issues

08.10.2020 - Interviews, Mental health, Podcasts, Therapies

“Being on the Limbic Chair creates a sensation of flow. It connects you with your body and it disconnects from the analysing and sometimes worrying mind. One can say this is a very good mindfulness exercise.”- Raluca Babota, Continuing Care Coordinator at The Kusnacht Practice.

At The Kusnacht Practice we pride ourselves on being the global leaders in innovative care services. As such, we seek to reinvent the experience of care by implementing the latest scientific and technological advances to deliver unparalleled medical expertise.

In the latest episode of our podcast series, The Kusnacht Practice’s Philippe Rovere, Global Sales and Marketing Director talks with Raluca Babota, Continuing Care Coordinator about the effectiveness of virtual reality, used in conjunction with Limbic Chairs in treating mental health issues. Raluca spoke at length on the subject. Discussing the creation and purpose of the Limbic Chair, the positive effects of the combined therapies on various mental health conditions. And the unlimited potential yet to be realised.

Philippe Rovere: Hello, welcome everybody, this is The Kusnacht Practice podcast that you are listening to. This is Philippe Rovere, I’m the Global Sales and Marketing Director here at The Kusnacht Practice. We are the global leaders in innovative care services. Our purpose is to reinvent the experience of care. I’m here today with Raluca Babota. We are going to talk about the effectiveness of virtual reality and Limbic Chairs in the treatment of mental health issues. Hello Raluca.

Raluca Babota: Hello.

PR: Maybe you can introduce us with what your function is at The Kusnacht Practice.

RB: Yes, I’m a psychologist and I work in the Continuing Care department. I’ve been doing so for the past five years.

PR: Thank you. So talking about those Limbic Chairs. Could you tell us when it was invented?

RB: Well, the Limbic Chair was developed by a medical doctor and neuroscientist, Dr. Patrik Kunzler, in collaboration with MIT and is the result of a research project that started in 2006. The Doctor Kunzler’s desire was to create a chair based on neuroscience, a chair that will make your spine and mind feel like they are weightless, free and flowing, safe and relaxed.

He developed the design methods based on his research speciality, the limbic system. The limbic system connects our bodies with our emotions and our emotions with our thinking brain. In three years of research at the MIT Media Lab a chair was developed that makes you feel like you are weightless and that stimulates your body to do incentivised movements. These are movements that promote positive mental states. They make you feel happy and express happiness. These movements have a direct impact on the limbic system, hence the name of the chair, the Limbic Chair.

PR: And how does it work?

RB: Well, the Limbic Chair consists of two shells which wrap delicately around each of a seated person’s size. The sitter can move each leg independently with six degrees of freedom from the specially balanced shells. There is no back rest yet. It is very comfortable because they have combined two things: the pelvic and the spinal physics. The Limbic Chair can be successfully used for meditation, work, for getting more in touch with your body or simply for enjoying and sitting healthily.

One of the effects of the Limbic Chair is that it enhances somatic perception. While sitting in the chair, you can feel your body more. Apart from making you feel light, the Limbic Chair enhances sensitivity to touch and movement, helping you reconnect with your body and meditate or to discover your body and your mind’s freedom of movement and expression. The chair can also be used by people with spinal and other medical impairments without any difficulty.

PR: Very interesting. The virtual reality in conjunction with the use of Limbic Chairs is said to be particularly effective. How exactly does virtual reality work in combination with the Limbic Chair then?

RB: The virtual reality is the newest frontier in mental health treatment, and a great tool to complement the intervention in, for example, anxiety disorders, phobias or addiction. We are still discovering the full potential of virtual reality. It’s a growing field which is not yet included in the mainstream practices and interventions, and we are very proud to be one of the first companies to use it with our clients.

PR: And then, when was a combined use of virtual reality and the Limbic Chairs first discovered? And how is it utilised? And could you please elaborate on how they work in tandem?

RB: Well, I guess from the beginning of the Limbic Chair’s existence, the researchers needed something more to help people get in touch with their own bodies and with the chair. And to make the use of this chair easier for them. At the moment, we have three applications which combine virtual reality with the Limbic Chair and which were developed specifically for the Limbic Chair.

The first one is developed in partnership with two orthopedics clinics, here in Switzerland. And it helps train the lower back muscles, increase mobility and gain more control over the lower parts of the body-sacral and lumbar spine and pelvic floor. Clients find it extremely useful. Improvements in mobility and control appear in a very short time, three to four sessions after the training starts. The other two apps that we have at disposal at the moment are meant to increase mobility and control while being on the chair, while making it a very pleasant experience.

One of them, it’s also neuroscience based, and it trains the memory processes which are associated with the prevention of Alzheimer’s and other brain degenerative disorders. And the third one that we have just helps you relax and focus on the use of the chair. Being on the Limbic Chair creates a sensation of flow. It connects you with your body and it disconnects from the analysing and sometimes worrying mind. One can say this is a very good mindfulness exercise.

PR: And what sort of results has the use of these methods achieved at The Kusnacht Practice? And why does it differ from the other treatment strategies? And how many chairs, for instance, how many chairs does the clinic employ and how widely are they used?

RB: Well, we have treatment chairs which are designed for the average height and weight. However, all our clients who wish, can order a custom designed chair, which is perfectly fitted to their body and designed according to their tastes and preferences. We encourage our clients to opt for the individualised chair. This is not only the most comfortable, it also gives them the opportunity to take the chair home and continue the daily training.

PR: And has the use of remote assistance become more widespread during the pandemic, due to an increase in remote consultations and treatments?

RB: During this very difficult time our clients needed us more than ever. And we needed to adapt in the way we offer our services and to keep our services at the same level. The remote sessions offered increased by 300 percent, while our team worked intensely to support our clients to the best of our abilities. And we hope that this will continue from now on. This crisis gave us the opportunity to explore different remote assistance options and incorporate them in our normal programs.

PR: That’s a great way to support here. And how widespread are these methods and how do you envisage the usage of the virtual reality and the Limbic Chairs? Would it be much more common around the world in the coming years, in your opinion? And if so, why would it be so, so widespread or developing?

RB: Absolutely. Both virtual reality and the Limbic Chair are great methods of intervention. They are very new on the market. We are very lucky to be the first to use them with our clientele. It might take some time for the scientific and medical community to become aware of the advantages of these methods, but I’m quite confident that their development and use will explode in the next year.

PR: Well, thank you so much Raluca for sharing this today with us. And we look forward to bringing you more information about how The Kusnacht Practice is reinventing the experience of care by bringing innovative tools and treatments.

RB: Thank you.