Acadia Pharmaceuticals and CDM New York  


Although Parkinson’s disease psychosis (PDP) is common, healthcare professionals usually see it as benign and don’t recognize its frightening impact on patients and families. Through virtual reality, this campaign created an experience that didn’t just educate providers, but also stoked empathy, elevating disease awareness to a much higher level.

This commendable blend of research insight with virtual reality allows the providers to experience the most common delusions and hallucinations, while driving home the urgency of treating symptoms before they become severe.

With the idea of using VR to help providers experience PDP through the sufferer’s eyes, it sought to make hallucinations feel as real to the audience as it is to the patient. Swarm is emotional and engaging, transporting the user into the world of Lila, a patient struggling with PDP, and her caregiver, Carl. The experience guides the user through daily life with PDP-related hallucinations and delusions, illuminating the distressing reality of both living with this disease and taking care of someone suffering from it.

Using a 360-degree camera, directional audio and CGI mapping over the video illustrates just how distressing these delusions are to both Lila and Carl. Swarm took five months to produce. Some 1,750 providers viewed the experience at seven different conferences. Because Parkinson’s affects so many, and PDP is so undertreated, the potential impact of this campaign is enormous: Nearly 70% of the providers who watched Swarm now rank psychosis as the most urgent comorbidity of Parkinson’s disease.