“For a soldier who has endured an amputation, severe phantom limb pain can be debilitating.
Virtual reality company MindMaze has designed a medical virtual reality, augmented reality, and motion capture video game system that immerses the amputee in a virtual environment, where moving the existing arm will move the non-existing arm of the avatar.
Neuroscientist and MindMaze founder and CEO Tej Tadi says this “mirroring” tricks the brain into believing the severed limb is actually there, and has proven benefits in phantom pain management.”
“A new video from The Economist claims that 2016 will be the year of the “virtual reality takeover”.
Perhaps most interestingly, virtual reality isn’t all just fun and games; it’s expanded into the medical world, offering new therapies for people suffering from autism, anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The video describes the use of virtual reality exposure therapy for a former soldier suffering from PTSD, noting that it can help ease the mental illness.
“We’re helping patients to confront and process difficult emotional memories by putting them back in simulations of what they were traumatized in,” Skip Rizzo, a psychologist who works with virtual reality exposure therapy, said in the video.”
“At the recent Special Education Technology Needs (SETN) conference in Sydney, Kieran Nolan, ICT technician at Wooranna Park Primary School in Dandenong North, ran a session on engaging and motivating special needs students with immersive technologies.
“We’ve had great success with students on the autism spectrum with the Titans of Space program using Oculus Rift [a virtual-reality headset]. The students virtually travel around the entire solar system, learning about each planet as they visit them.”
Students also upload their more artistic photos to a virtual art gallery.
“They take turns ‘walking’ through the art gallery to see their work,” Mr Nolan says.
Video is an old technology, but it is being used as a tool to teach special-needs students a behaviour or skill, says Shane Spence, who ran a session on Video Self Modelling. He is the director of meTV Education at Yarra Ranges Special Developmental School in Mount Evelyn, and streaming Australia-wide.
The idea is to show a child a two-minute or less video of themselves performing a skill they cannot currently perform.
“The learning is much more powerful when it’s yourself that you are watching and imitating,” says Anthea Naylor, a special education teacher at Yarra Ranges.”
“Exposure therapy has proved a highly successful treatment for phobias, but it’s impractical for things such as fear of public speaking or flying. The answer may be virtual reality.
“Phobics know that when they see a little spider on the counter, they shouldn’t be panicking because technically it’s not dangerous,” says Stéphane Bouchard, a psychologist at the University of Quebec. “They’ll tell you, ‘I know this is crazy.’ But because they keep avoiding, their limbic system keeps associating spiders with danger or extreme disgust and they never undergo that corrective experience.”
For many types of phobia, however, traditional exposure therapy is not feasible. Crippling fears of public speaking or flying, for example, can be difficult to tackle practically. Over the past 10 years the solution has increasingly been the virtual world, utilising some of the technologies that brought us 3D cinema.”
“The scientific team at the Center for BrainHealth is partnering with researchers at Yale’s Child Study Center to test the feasibility of providing the research-based training program to young adults across the country. A person with autism can use the technology to “practice” and hone their skills initiating a conversation with a person they would like to meet, interviewing for a job, or standing up for themselves by confronting a friend or colleague. Practicing social interaction in a safe, non-threatening, gaming environment helps people reduce anxiety and gain the confidence and skills they need to attempt more social interactions in their daily lives.”
By Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman from the Center for BrainHealth writing in the Huffington Post.