Will Virtual Reality Be The New Frontier Of PTSD Treatment?
– April 06, 2017
Exposure therapy is a long standing evidence based practice for healing PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder is a serious mental health condition in which someone has difficulty processing a traumatic experience in their lives. In addition to depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, those who suffer from PTSD experience hyperarousal, paranoia, social impairments, distress, and serious psychological discomfort. Video games which center on a narrative including war have been controversial in their use by war veterans. Some have found catharsis in the ability to immerse themselves in a war simulated environment and engage in non harmful battle. Others, with severe PTSD, find the games too triggering. PTSD in veterans is a serious mental health crisis. Recent statistics have indicated that 22 veterans a day commit suicide as the result of depression, mental illness, and post traumatic stress disorder.
Virtual reality therapy includes the use of a virtual reality headset which creates a fully immersive visual field and surround sound system. Walking through a virtual environment, participants can turn their head in every direction and continue to see their virtual world. The narrative of the virtual reality “game” happens at every angle, and changes according to how someone moves their head. During a virtual reality PTSD therapy session, therapists can control and manipulate the narrative according to the feedback of the patient. Today, virtual reality programs can be in high definition, even when they are computerized. For therapy, the three dimensional graphics are somewhat dated, helping patients differentiate what is real from what is not real. NBC News reports on one area of virtual reality treatment for veterans which uses model guns and backpacks to create a more realistic sensory experience. “Virtual Reality fools the human brain by linking the movement of the camera to your head’s movements…VR creators refer to the mystical effect as ‘presence’. No matter how crude or abstract the virtual world around you, your mind is tricked into believing that you’re there, in mind and body and soul. It’s this trickery that is leveraged by the PTSD treatment.”
Healing from post traumatic stress disorder requires careful and compassionate clinical care. Get Real Recovery includes multiple treatment methods for trauma and PTSD. Recovery is possible. The pain will end, in a healthy way.