“For many disabled residents, who may spend 12 hours a day or more in Second Life, the most important moments and relationships of their lives happen inside the virtual world, ” reports Backchanel. “For them, the fevered fantasies of a decade ago have become reality: Second Life is where they live.” mirandakatz shares this article: Wagner James Au, who has written extensively about Second Life, estimates they may account for roughly 20 percent of users. Some active members estimate the number higher — at as much as 50 percent… Abundant research shows imagining movement, without actually moving the body, can have positive effects on motor skills, balance, and learning… Studies suggest the therapeutic benefits of virtual reality extend beyond movement disorders — to chronic pain, cognitive functioning in people with ADHD and PTSD, and social skills for people on the autism spectrum. The article describes a 90-year-old former nurse, now living in a retirement community, who’s spent eight years living in a Second Life archipelago called “Virtual Ability Island” with over a thousand other members. “Watching her avatar hike trails and dance gave her the confidence to try things in the physical world that she hadn’t tried in a half decade — like stepping off a curb or standing up without any help.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.