There’s an article up on the Washington Post’s website about sick, disabled and troubled people using Second Life to overcome their difficulties:
The article uses examples of a woman who had a stroke, a person imprisoned in their home by a terror of going outdoors, and a person with autism who used Second Life to ease their fears and to improve their situations. As quoted in the article:
“Because the full-color, multifaceted nature of the experience offers so much more “emotional bandwidth” than traditional Web sites, e-mail lists and discussion groups, users say the experience can feel astonishingly real. Participants develop close relationships and share intimate details even while, paradoxically, remaining anonymous. Some say they open up in ways they never would in face-to-face encounters in real support groups, therapy sessions, or even with family and close friends in their true lives.”
Also from the article:
“Medical schools and health departments have also started using virtual worlds. A University of California psychiatrist developed a virtual psych ward echoing with disembodied voices to help caregivers better understand schizophrenia. Stanford University doctors built virtual operating and emergency rooms to train young doctors. Britain‘s National Health Service constructed an entire virtual hospital.
So much is happening in virtual worlds that researchers at Harvard Medical School are planning to explore the possibilities at a seminar later this month, and the National Defense University in Washington is hosting a conference next month about ways that federal agencies, including the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, can use the phenomenon.”
This is an excellent article, I highly recommend you follow the above link and read the entire article.