“A veteran might be mowing his lawn on a peaceful summer’s day and suddenly the smell of gasoline from the lawn mower will trigger a flashback to a terrifying roadside bomb attack he experienced while serving in Afghanistan,” said Marat Zanov, director of training at Virtually Better, Inc.
Zanov tests virtual reality hardware used in conjunction with USC-developed software to treat veterans suffering from PTSD.
As a military clinical psychologist, Marat Zanov treated many cases of PTSD and a broad range of traditional clinical problems.
The day after leaving the Air Force, Zanov joined his friend Dawn McDaniel at Virtually Better Inc., a Georgia-based research and development startup that uses virtual reality technology to treat numerous anxiety disorders.
“We create a virtual environments where we can expose the patient to previously feared situations and get them comfortable in those environments so they can eventually overcome their impairment,” Zanov said.
McDaniel has also been instrumental in developing affordable online treatments, including a Web-based treatment for mild anxiety in children.
“If children are experiencing mild anxiety, their family can download a pirate-themed adventure that does all the same things at home we would do clinically in the office for a fraction of the price,” McDaniel said.
“We ask kids to develop lists of things they’re scared of and categorize them,” she said. “We then develop small steps toward their main goals. So if they’re scared of spiders, they may first go into a room with a spider, then approach the spider, until by the end of the treatment they are putting the spider in a cup and taking it outside.”
By Susan Bell, staff writer at the University of Southern California.
Read more: http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2014/08/47551/