« These Silent Film Era Starlet Hairstyles from Second Life Brand Lelutka will Leave you Speechless | Main | Flex your Creative Muscles and your Fashion Prowess with the Create-a-Character Second Life Blogger Challenge »

Thursday, February 07, 2013


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Wow, she's 85! She's adorable!

Alicia Chenaux

85?? No way... she looks like she's in her 60s! It's really amazing what mental strength and determination can do for a person. Way to go, Fran!! Keep dancing! :)

Lenni Foxtrot

This is so interesting, and wonderful to hear. May sound silly to ask, in light of her awesome recovery, but do you think this is why I dance better in RL now? Always awkward in RL on a dance floor prior SL, but after watching my avatar dance for years so well, I started to let go and dance more myself. Friends say I honestly look like I learned to dance.

Hitomi Tiponi

Hopefully when Fran gets to road junctions she doesn't start crossing then bounce back and cross properly :-)

Seriously though this is a wonderful story and shows that the benefits of virtual worlds go beyond the obvious. Hopefully she continues to enjoy Second Life and improve certain aspects of her condition for many years to come.

Wisdom d'Avi

It's great to read a share stories like this but I wonder why people find these results so amazing.

It's a natural occurance. Athletes use mental imaging and practice to improve their skills.

Second life gives life to the immagination. Our mental images are brought to life in virtual reality.

Virtual reality is an untapped wonder.

Isadora Fiddlesticks

This is a great development in support of games and virtual worlds. I've met and chatted with people in SL who are disabled in RL, and it's amazing at how they transcend their disabilities inworld...and when it translates to them feeling better and actually being healed in real life, it's a fascinating and wonderful thing...LL should have kept their original mission statement.


I joined SL after reading an article about the psychological effects that an avatar can have on the "operator", which I found intriguing. This kind of impact, though, is even more exciting, and I hope to hear more about it.

Tracy Redangel

I love hearing positive stories like this. Fran seems like an amazing lady.
I wish the few documentaries about SL would feature these kinds of stories. Life 2.0 portrayed a somewhat (I thought so) negative portrait of Second Life.

Ayesha Lytton

I have met Barbie, Fran's daughter, in RL and I am also their landlord in SL. They are fantastic women who are doing so much to help people with Parkinson's Disease. I'm so happy to be a part of their project.

I have a disability myself, and while I can't attribute any physical improvements to SL, it has certainly changed my life for the better. I too enjoy dancing in SL, and doing things I can't in RL. Most importantly, I've met many wonderful friends. My SL friends helped me gain the courage to escape a RL abusive relationship, rebuilt my self-esteem, and helped me heal emotionally. My horizons have expanded as I've taken several road trips to meet SL friends. I have a SL business for 5 years now and I'm building a new RL career in part from SL.

This platform has so much potential to help people with physical limitations, and indeed the world, if only its creators would start to take an interest again. I still believe that virtual worlds are the future, and we are the pioneers.

Eowyn Verwood

I think most of us who participate in SL know of the emotional effects both positive and negative. Its truly amazing what a positive effect SL has had on my self-confidence in RL. Its been an outlet for creativity and self expression. Its a powerful tool when used correctly.

Donna / Tredi

Thanks James! And thanks for the insightful feedback. We look forward to beginning the work to see if we can back up the stories you share. If you know someone with Parkinson's who may be interested in our study or provide care for someone with Parkinson's, please find me in SL (Tredi Felisimo) and leave me a note there. Likewise, if you want to participate in our support groups, find us on the Creations for Parkinson's sim! The beautiful sim is open to the public.


i've always felt quite connected to my avatar, even including it in my biz name. but now, this article gives me hope that my mom with parkinson's might be able to join me and i can offer her ways to re-ignite her inner self that has been lost with her disease, and bring her some happiness and freedom in a way she may have never imagined before.... :)

Extropia DaSilva

I believe gymnasts and divers mentally rehearse their moves and that this helps them improve their routines. Functional brain-imaging shows that if you merely imagine moving in a certain way, the brain 'lights up' in a manner that is very similar to the patterns it would display, had you actually moved like that.

So maybe something of this nature is going on here? Fran has incorporated her avatar into her mental map of herself and when it moves her brain responds with activity closely related to what it would have shown had she moved?


SL remains a kind of self medication. Needs to be stressed 'your results might differ'

Quan Lavender

I think there is only one thing to add. We ALL identify with our avatar. Our brain is build to digest information from the senses and cannot differentiate between 'real' and 'virtual'. Many research proved that, like the Rubber Hand Illusion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxwn1w7MJvk

Carter Giacobini

Such a fantastic story! I hope that they can develop her methods even further, creating a program for people who are battling w/ Parkinson's.

YAY FRAN!! Go on w/ your bad self! ;-)

Arcadia Codesmith

Even if it doesn't work for everybody, a low-cost therapy that helps some is priceless. I look forward to hearing more.

ZZ Bottom

Linden LAb, it there are times You All must be proud of what you created, this is one of them!


Amazing and inspiring story. Wow.

If they're looking to connect with neuroscientists and neurologists who have done research in virtual worlds, they should definitely touch base with these folks:


Kim Anubis

That's the SL I love -- thanks, Hamlet. And thanks for the link, Pathfinder. :-)

Pussycat Catnap

That's really amazing and heartwarming to read. Her name sounds familiar too - wondering where I've come across her, or if its just the sl-lastname triggering in my head.


so interesting! I know there has to be therapeutic effects of the connection one develops with their avatar. I feel that, although nothing like overcoming something like Parkinsons. More like dancing better in RL because of practice in SL. It has to be a real connection...not a bought shape, and not a disconnect with the human idea of ourselves we hold in our heads, that can manifest such a huge mind over body effect. I would like to see further studies. Great article!

Tom Boellstorff

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments! Fran and Barbie and all of the folks involved with this project are absolutely inspiring, and I'm honored to be able to work with them. We have some very interesting ideas up our sleeves that do speak to many of the issues raised in the comments - including how these effects might be similar or different from other forms of identifying with an avatar, and also how artists and athletes can "practice" by imagining what they are doing, or watching someone else, and so on. So stay tuned. And because I'm new to this area of research myself - if you think of other research that's been done that might be useful for us to look at, please do send on the citations to me: tboellst [at symbol] uci [dot] edu


This is very interesting. I will pass the info along to someone I know with Parkinson's.

It makes me wonder though. If watching your avatar do healthy things can have a positive physical impact... What effects could there be from watching your avatar being killed and mutilated repeatedly in violent games? Although I guess in those cases they usually don't associate as strongly with their avatar but some might.


I also wanted to add that this reminded me of my studies of Meditation, Lucid Dreaming and Flotation Tanks. I believe all these methods are related and that they can help people heal & improve.

elizabeth (16)

is everso good to read about this(:


Classic post. I've shared this and Path's link with my class, who have encountered mostly negative accounts of immersion in virtual worlds.

Fran's story provides a powerful counterargument.

Thanks for covering this, Hamlet.

abde alaziz


Dee Darwin

Dance on girl, dance on♥


Thats true, even I copy my avatar ao and dances in rl, so interesting


The way you intertwined the personal journey of the Parkinson's patient with the therapeutic possibilities of Second Life was truly touching. It's a testament to the power of technology to transcend its initial purpose and become a force for good.


The potential for Second Life to be a therapeutic space for Parkinson's patients is mind-blowing, and your detailed exploration left me with a mix of amazement and hope. Your knack for making complex concepts accessible is a gift, and it's evident you're not just reporting; you're an ambassador for the possibilities that tech holds in improving lives.

Ervin Doyle

I feel so good after seeing you mam you play a game its very good for you for change you mind in disease these games all time my favorite Peach Essential Hoodie this hoodie is for Men's and Women's

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Making a Metaverse That Matters Wagner James Au ad
Please buy my book!
Thumb Wagner James Au Metaverse book
Wagner James "Hamlet" Au
Bad-Unicorn SL builds holdables HUD
Dutchie Evergreen Slideshow 2024
Juicybomb_EEP ad
My book on Goodreads!
Wagner James Au AAE Speakers Metaverse
Request me as a speaker!
Making of Second Life 20th anniversary Wagner James Au Thumb
my site ... ... ...
PC for SL
Recommended PC for SL
Macbook Second Life
Recommended Mac for SL

Classic New World Notes stories:

Woman With Parkinson's Reports Significant Physical Recovery After Using Second Life - Academics Researching (2013)

We're Not Ready For An Era Where People Prefer Virtual Experiences To Real Ones -- But That Era Seems To Be Here (2012)

Sander's Villa: The Man Who Gave His Father A Second Life (2011)

What Rebecca Learned By Being A Second Life Man (2010)

Charles Bristol's Metaverse Blues: 87 Year Old Bluesman Becomes Avatar-Based Musician In Second Life (2009)

Linden Limit Libertarianism: Metaverse community management illustrates the problems with laissez faire governance (2008)

The Husband That Eshi Made: Metaverse artist, grieving for her dead husband, recreates him as an avatar (2008)

Labor Union Protesters Converge On IBM's Metaverse Campus: Leaders Claim Success, 1850 Total Attendees (Including Giant Banana & Talking Triangle) (2007)

All About My Avatar: The story behind amazing strange avatars (2007)

Fighting the Front: When fascists open an HQ in Second Life, chaos and exploding pigs ensue (2007)

Copying a Controversy: Copyright concerns come to the Metaverse via... the CopyBot! (2006)

The Penguin & the Zookeeper: Just another unlikely friendship formed in The Metaverse (2006)

"—And He Rezzed a Crooked House—": Mathematician makes a tesseract in the Metaverse — watch the videos! (2006)

Guarding Darfur: Virtual super heroes rally to protect a real world activist site (2006)

The Skin You're In: How virtual world avatar options expose real world racism (2006)

Making Love: When virtual sex gets real (2005)

Watching the Detectives: How to honeytrap a cheater in the Metaverse (2005)

The Freeform Identity of Eboni Khan: First-hand account of the Black user experience in virtual worlds (2005)

Man on Man and Woman on Woman: Just another gender-bending avatar love story, with a twist (2005)

The Nine Souls of Wilde Cunningham: A collective of severely disabled people share the same avatar (2004)

Falling for Eddie: Two shy artists divided by an ocean literally create a new life for each other (2004)

War of the Jessie Wall: Battle over virtual borders -- and real war in Iraq (2003)

Home for the Homeless: Creating a virtual mansion despite the most challenging circumstances (2003)

Newstex_Author_Badge-Color 240px
JuicyBomb_NWN5 SL blog
Ava Delaney SL Blog