How Virtual Reality Is Revolutionizing Clinical Therapy and Treatment Rehabilitation

Posted on September 23, 2016

In 2016, virtual reality is exciting. Be it dogfighting through space in EVE: Valkyrie, defusing bombs in Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, or making a complete ass of an operation in Surgeon Simulator, the past few years have seen the tech finally catch up with the vision. If you're old enough to remember the early 1990s, you'll likely recall similar fanfare - not to mention some excruciating hyperbolic advertising - that ultimately failed to deliver.

The then new-fangled "transformative technology" was going to change the world, we were told—but underperforming hardware coupled with extortionate pricing and a lack of applications instead left the majority of us turned off and disenchanted.

For many, virtual reality as a medium and a concept had failed. For clinical application, though, it was enough to get the idea of VR-inspired treatment rehabilitation off the ground. "It was sufficient, though costly, difficult to create and not easily modifiable and so what ended up happening was maybe a hundred or so dedicated clinicians hung in there for the last 20 years and gradually the technology got better," explains psychologist Albert "Skip" Rizzo, the director of medical virtual reality at the University of California's Institute for Creative Technologies.

While VR has potential to help patients with physical injuries, the benefits it has and continues to have for people with mental health issues, like PTSD, are plentiful. Rizzo explains that much of his work is tied to exposure therapy—an evidence-based form of treatment for addressing anxiety disorders. In its traditional format, exposure therapy relies on imagination, and (in the case of PTSD) the patient to narrate their traumatic experience as if it's happening in the present. Naturally, this can be a very painful process, however guided by a therapist in a safe setting, the idea is to confront your fears rather than avoid them.

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Category(s):Phobias, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Trauma / Complex PTSD

Source material from Vice

Mental Health News