Oral Presentation The 26th International Nursing Philosophy Conference 2023

Portable Digital Sensory Rooms: Advancing Therapeutic Precision for Emotional Dysregulation and Distress (#42)

Rhonda L Wilson 1 , Oliver Higgins 1
  1. University of Newcastle, WOONGARRAH;NSW, NSW, Australia

This paper introduces a groundbreaking prototype for a portable digital sensory room aimed at addressing emotional dysregulation, de-escalation, distress, and discomfort. We focus on the social and emotional well-being of First Nations people while acknowledging its potential applicability across diverse populations. Existing literature reveals that sensory rooms, although not a standalone de-escalation strategy in mental health hospitals, hold promise as an earlier therapeutic intervention to promote general well-being and alleviate the challenges associated with emotional dysregulation and distress.


The presentation aims to demonstrate the innovative prototype and discuss the design features and deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT) for developing precision individualized treatment prescriptions. The design incorporates a private IoT server utilizing NodeJS and core web technologies with an Application Programming Interface (API) architecture allowing for multiple interfaces. The sensory room encompasses bespoke 3D printed pillars housing various data input and output options, including sensors and digital equipment. These sensors, employing both touchless and minimal touch approaches, monitor factors such as motion, velocity, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, volatile compounds, heart rate, respiratory rate, SpO2 levels, and environmental factors. Outputs include video, audio, LED light, breeze, and olfactometry, enabling the creation of therapeutic sensory prescriptions. A holistic approach incorporating First Nations knowledge, yarning methods, and story is employed, prioritizing cultural sensitivity and immersion.


The significance of this project lies in addressing the overrepresentation of First Nations people within mental health care settings by offering therapeutic responses aligned with their cultural practices and promoting cultural safety. The implications highlight the urgent need for innovative solutions in mental health care for First Nations people, and the portable digital sensory room serves as a potential design solution suitable for contemporary mental health care settings.