San Antonio’s virtual reality nonprofit brings relaxation and well-being to its users

A San Antonio nonprofit organization called Studio Bahia wants to make virtual reality therapy accessible to local residents, with plans to expand across Texas and the nation. Originally founded as a response to help Syrian and European refugees, specifically children with trauma, Studio Bahia wanted to identify how to get there with language and cultural barriers.

“The reason we decided to do it (RV therapies) is because other language-based approaches had failed. Approaches like a psychologist coming and talking to a refugee. A refugee has no tradition of opening up. to a stranger, ”he said. Allen Olson-Urtecho, one of the founders.

They realized how easy it was to access the RV through the mobile devices their parents carry. Studio Bahia has taken the lead in designing therapeutic landscapes available on mobile devices. This made the RV accessible to refugees and now the company wants to make it available to anyone who has a smartphone.

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Pink VR, which is used for chronic pain.

This non-profit organization operates in San Antonio and includes collaborations throughout Texas and around the world. The team of five is made up of virtual reality designers Christina Chrysanthopoulou and Renia Papathanasiou, clinical psychologist Dr. Cindy Dominique, Ivy Georgieva and Allen Olson-Urtecho, with doctors. in RV therapies.

Olson-Urtecho first touched on the idea when he saw how language and cultural barriers could be a challenge. To address this, the team designed sets and narratives on the storyboard and takes the time to produce and document designs that are not culture-specific and offer relaxation and healing.

“We’ve had to innovate and try something completely different. So all of our therapies don’t have language. And it works really well because virtual reality is so powerful, it’s such a powerful tool,” Olson-Urtecho said.


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Aqua therapy for Alzheimer’s.

The organization provides virtual reality therapy for a built-in learning experience and contributes to a person’s well-being through distraction therapy, prenatal and postpartum instruction, and even CPR practice.

Studio Bahia offers a multitude of landscapes; Purple VR – used to reduce anxiety, Aqua VR – a therapy for people with Alzheimer’s disease, Pink VR – a therapy for chronic pain.

The company’s virtual reality designs also include distraction therapy, a panoramic tour that aims to relieve pain during difficult experiences such as medical procedures.

In November 2020, Studio Bahia won the “10 Most Promising Companies” award at the Texas Life Sciences Forum, for its innovative, low-cost model and its dissemination to large vulnerable populations.

Now, the company is producing what it calls easy-to-use, affordable and affordable headphones for the phones it can connect to, and downloadable VR wellness tours for mobile devices. For every VR headset sold at a hospital, Studio Bahia donates to unions of nurses, veterans and other vulnerable populations in Texas.

By creating an atmosphere and a feeling, we can offer certain situations that bring psychological benefits to people, ”Olson-Urtecho added.

When asked what the well-being of virtual reality will be like in ten years, Olson-Urtecho talks about a more personalized experience for each person, which incorporates more senses and adds to the healing journey, to the training or just relaxing, available to anyone.

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