Virtual reality therapy named winner of Global Wellness Summit’s ‘Shark Tank’ award
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Virtual reality therapy named winner of Global Wellness Summit’s ‘Shark Tank’ award

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A new virtual reality therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety has been named the winner of the annual Shark Tank Student Competition at the Global Wellness Summit (GWS).

The Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was developed by Jarrod Luca, a student at Florida State University, and uses a virtual reality headset to treat sufferers of PTSD.

Luca was named the winner following a live competition between three finalists and questioning from a panel of 'Wellness Sharks' – spa professionals representing some of the sector’s leading companies.

Maria Gil from École de Lausanne, Switzerland, was named first runner-up for developing a ‘health toothbrush’ that encourages people to follow a less acidic diet.

Mikey Ahdoot, from the University of Southern California, was named second runner-up for his Every Damn Day app, which tracks habits, motivates users and matches them with an accountability partner.

The three finalists will share US$10,000 (€8,400, £7,500) in prize money.

“The Shark Tank of Wellness offers an important look at what lies ahead for the wellness industry,” said GWS Chairman and CEO Susie Ellis.

“Interestingly, all finalists presented technology solutions, ranging from a life-changing virtual reality solution to innovative apps. This underscores the important role technology will continue to play in delivering health and wellness to a global community.”

The Shark Tank of Wellness is a global challenge giving university students the opportunity to submit innovative, impactful ideas for the wellness industry.

Entries are accepted from a number of fields – including architecture/design, beauty, education, fitness, hospitality, investment, medicine, nutrition, real estate, spa, technology and travel.

This year the Shark Tank Student Competition received 60 entries from 26 countries.

The panel of ‘Wellness Sharks’ included:

William Arango, Senior Director of Operations, Ritz Carlton for ESPA International

Andrew Gibson, Global Vice President, Well-Being, Luxury Brands, Fairmont HotelsJane Iredale, President & CEO, Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, U.S.

Sheila McCann, General Manager, Chiva-Som International Health Resort, ThailandJacqueline Piotaz, Founder & Developer, Jacqueline Piotatz Cosmetics, Switzerland

Frank Pitsikalis, Founder & CEO, ResortSuite, CanadaMichael Pugliese, Owner & CEO, Circadia by Dr. Pugliese, US.

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A new virtual reality therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety has been named the winner of the annual Shark Tank Student Competition at the Global Wellness Summit (GWS).
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