“Virtual reality therapy for post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) was demonstrated at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton HiMARC’s Motion-Assisted Multi-Modal Memory Desensitization and Reconsolidation (3MDR) has patients walk on a treadmill toward the stimulus, sounds and images that may remind them of events that brought on traumatic memories.
The therapist is with them through this experience, guiding, directing and asking them a series of questions as the soldier or veteran confronts these memories.
“It was incredible. I don’t know how else to describe it. My senses were heightened. I was even sensitive to the clanging sound of the carabiner on my harness,” Capt. Anna Harpe said after experiencing the 3MDR system.
“Patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other anxiety conditions are finding real solutions in a virtual world.
Stéphane Bouchard, Canada Research Chair in clinical cyberpsychology has demonstrated how a virtual tour of an animated space can help people battle their personal demons.
Afraid of spiders?
Virtual reality therapy allows patients to confront spiders, a bit at a time, with visuals so real in a three-dimensional, computer-simulated environment as to evoke the same emotions as the real thing.”
“Veterans and active duty military members are using virtual reality to relive the worst moments of their life in an innovative counseling program being offered for free at the University of Central Florida’s PTSD Clinic.
“It’s a very intense program but the advantage is that we can really take care of this disorder and treat this disorder thoroughly and effectively in a short period of time,” said Dr. Deborah Beidel, the founder of UCF Restores, a program that uses a combination of counseling and exposure therapy to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Iraq War veteran Bruce Chambers was one of the first patients to go through the therapy.”
“Scenarios involving spiders – so many spiders, crawling all over you – heights, public transport and crowds are being tested or are already available to download and use … at Australia’s first specialist, virtual-reality phobia treatment clinic, which recently opened in Sydney.
Meanwhile a large number of research groups are investigating potential uses for the new technology.
A London-based project for example is exploring using train-station simulations to treat social anxiety. The simulated patrons can even be programmed to turn and stare at the user – helpful for treating paranoia.”
“At USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies Albert “Skip” Rizzo and his team are using virtual reality — a technology in the midst of booming growth — to help combat veterans fully process and recover from PTSD.
In Rizzo’s “Bravemind” program, patients revisit painful memories in a VR setting, under the care of a trained therapist. This sense memory allows them to access the memory clearly and, in doing so, to fully process it.
It’s a revolutionary type of exposure therapy that has so far netted promising results.”
“An Argentinian psychologist named Fernando Tarnogol, has created a software platform called Phobos that uses VR to treat extreme fears and anxieties like acrophobia (fear of heights) and arachnophobia (fear of spiders) by mimicking the triggering conditions in a safe, controlled virtual environment.
Tarnogol hopes that in the future, people with a wide range of anxieties and phobias will use VR as a safe, low-cost supplement to traditional exposure therapy.”
Image, text and video by Cara Santa Maria for Fusion.net