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Report From CAPS @ RIT: Transforming Health and Care

Laurence Sugarman, MD, ABMH

The US leads the world in health care costs per capita, but not health. To realize health care cost reductions, we need more than a redistribution of medical care. We require a transformation of both health and care. The Center for Applied Psychophysiology and Self-regulation (CAPS) at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is catalyzing that change by focusing its education, research and clinical initiatives on psychophysiological self- regulation: emphasizing skills over pills. This report summarizes the first groundbreaking steps and results in this transformation. CAPS' Minding Anxiety Project (MAP) supports RIT students with Asperger Syndrome by teaching them to modulate their sympathetic nervous system arousal while tracking their social engagement and progress towards other self-determined goals. Twenty RIT undergraduate students registered for the first Introduction to Applied Psychophysiology and Self-regulation course and generated, as a requirement, 10 research proposals, described herein. In a collaborative effort, CAPS has developed a "game-changing" computer program for young people with perseverative disorders (from autism spectrum to obsessive compulsive). This role-playing game augments therapy by employing physiological controllers and cognitive-behavioral strategies to engage client/ players during a virtual, and engaging, day of choices and coping at home and school. The game and preliminary results of clinical trials will be presented. Upcoming projects in community professional education, novel health informatics and community-based research -- changing care in the community -- will be introduced. We will track the planned trajectory of these activities towards fulfilling CAPS's mission: to transform health care by helping people help themselves.


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