Virtual reality technology in the treatment of PTSD
Virtual reality exposure therapy is a modern type of exposure therapy that is used to treat various diseases, such as phobias and so on. Scientists have also come up with a way to use virtual reality exposure therapy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. But before we tell you this, let’s understand what exposure therapy itself is.
What is exposure therapy?
Exposure therapy is considered a behavioral treatment for PTSD. Its main point is to put a person in a situation that he most fears and avoids in real life. This helps, because at the moment of confronting this situation, the fear and anxiety that have haunted a person throughout his life disappear. For example, a person who was in a serious car accident in the past is now afraid to drive a car. Thanks to this therapy, he is placed in a car and, as it were, faces his fear live. And now it doesn’t seem so terrible. Thus, the ultimate goal of exposure therapy is to help the patient reduce the level of fear and anxiety in real life, thereby improving their quality of life and emotional state.
But this is not always possible. There are cases when it is impossible to create a stressful situation for a person with PTSD. For example, a girl who has developed PTSD after being captured by terrorists will not be able to find herself in this situation again, as it threatens her life. And here, new technologies are already helping, namely, virtual reality.
How is it used?
There are several ways to use VRET technology for therapy : immersing a person in a virtual environment created by a computer; installing a virtual reality display device on the patient’s head; immersing the patient in a fully computer-automated room where everything around will be virtual reality. This virtual environment is created in advance by specialists, and is created mainly in cases where in real life it would be life-threatening or even impossible.
VRET helps to cope with various anxiety diseases, such as claustrophobia, arachnophobia, social anxiety, acrophobia, fear of airplanes, and others. Many studies have been conducted on this topic, proving the usefulness of using this technology for the treatment of PTSD.
Scientists began researching this technology during the Vietnam War for the military. They created a virtual environment that a soldier could probably encounter during a battle. Scientists have noticed that the soldiers. Those who received this therapy, the symptoms of PTSD were much reduced. Studies were also conducted on military personnel who participated in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the result was very impressive.
How do I find a therapist who uses the VRET technique?
Currently, VRET is an expensive therapy. But since virtual reality technologies are rapidly developing in our time, in 5-10 years there will be similar equipment in clinics. At the moment, you can easily find a therapist who uses conventional exposure therapy without virtual reality. It also effectively helps to cope with the symptoms of PTSD.