By Bob Brewin 11/03/09 12:58 pm ET
Three virtual reality companies have started to develop an online world for amputees with funding from the Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. The Amputee Virtual Environment Support Space (AVESS) project will research the needs of soldiers who suffered wounds that resulted in amputation and establish protocols and prototypes for addressing those needs in a virtual environment. Since 2001, more than a thousand troops have lost a limb in combat operations in Afghanistan or Iraq, and the new virtual environment will give them a place to practice skills that will help with their rehabilitation. Unlike the open world of Second Life, which anyone can access, the amputee virtual world will be a closed community. But it will use virtual world technology developed by Second Life operator Linden Labs. ADL Co., which develops virtual worlds for health care providers, and Virtual Ability Inc., which helps disabled people use Second Life, also are AVESS partners.