“VR is not going to be the solution,” said Jonathan Rogers, a researcher at University College London who has studied the prevalence of anxiety disorders during the pandemic. “It could be part of the solution, but it won’t make formal medicine and therapies obsolete.”
Does VR therapy work?
Virtual reality treatments are not necessarily more effective than traditional prolonged exposure therapy, Dr. Sherrill. But for some patients, VR offers convenience and can immerse patients in scenes that are difficult to reproduce in real life. For some people, the treatment can mimic the video game systems they are familiar with. There is also dual perception in patients using virtual reality – the images on the screen are almost lifelike, but the headsets themselves function as proof that they are not real.
Months after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Difede and Dr. Hunter Hoffman, director of the Center for Virtual Reality Research at the University of Washington, tested the virtual reality treatment in a living person. survivors of acute PTSD, one of the first reported. application of therapy. Dr. Difede said that the first time the patient put the headphones on, she started crying. “I never thought I would see the World Trade Center again,” she told Dr. Difede. After six hours of treatment, the patient had a 90% reduction in PTSD symptoms. Dr. Difede then tested VR exposure therapy in Iraq War veterans; 16 of the first 20 patients no longer met the PTSD diagnostic criteria after completion of treatment.
At the University of Central Florida, a team called UCF Restores has built trauma therapies using VR that allow clinicians to control the level of detail in the simulation, down to the color of the throttle. The bed sheet or TV can be clicked on or off, to make it easier to trigger a traumatic memory. The program provides free trauma therapy, often using VR, to Florida residents and focuses on treating PTSD.
Dr Deborah Beidel, professor of psychology and executive director of UCF Restores, has extended treatments beyond visuals, customizing sounds and even smells to create an augmented reality for patients. multiply.
Jonathan Tissue, 35, a former Marine, sought treatment at UCF Restores in early 2020 after talk therapy and medication failed to alleviate his PTSD symptoms, including flashbacks, anxiety and mood swings. Ultimately, it was the smells that were pumped into the room as he described his military service to a clinician that helped unlock his memories. There was the stench of burning tires, diesel fumes, the smell of decomposing bodies. He heard bullets exploding. His chair rumbles, thanks to the simulated vibrations of the hub.
“It opened certain doors where I could start talking about it,” he said. He talks through his newly discovered memories with a therapist and a support group, processing the terror that has built up in his body over the years.