Virtual Reality Can Heal [Video]

virtual reality
Virtual reality is able to heal people who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, pain, and possibly anxiety. At the University of Central Florida, researchers are using virtual reality to help people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The technology is part of a type of trauma-management therapy called exposure therapy. This type of therapy uses virtual reality software along with other types of technology to create a person’s traumatic experience. After a person experiences the traumatic event over a long period of time, they can become desensitized to the distress the event causes and the effects it has on their everyday life.

Dr. Sandra Neer, a project coordinator at the University of Central Florida RESTORES clinic, says that the clinic had people come to the clinic with severe symptoms Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These people’s symptoms are so severe they are having difficulty functioning. After the patients finished the program, their Clinician-Administered Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Scale (CAPS) scores, a scoring system that measures the severity of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, decreased by half. Another type of virtual reality that is able to heal people helps them cope with pain.

DeepStream, a virtual reality system, is able to help people reduce their pain and make their life better. The system is comprised of four parts: a computer that is people use to play games, a virtual reality display, a DeepStream 3D viewer, Biosensors and a game controller for virtual reality. The virtual reality display is a headset the user wears to experience virtual reality. A DeepStream 3D viewer is a high-resolution display that gives a panoramic view and that people can place on any surface. Biosensors are devices that can translate a biological response, such as heart rate, into an electrical signal.

The virtual reality system does have research attached to it. More than a decade of research has proven that virtual reality is able to lower a person’s stress levels, build up their resilience and reduce their pain. Studies that took fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) images and used the virtual reality learned that participants had less brain activity related to pain when they experienced virtual reality. Participants in the study also said they experienced less pain.

At the Universite de Montreal, researchers are using virtual reality to reduce anxiety in older people. Researchers believe that they are able to do this by exposing people to images, situations or objects that cause anxiety. They also believe that when people frequently experience whatever causes them anxiety, it will decrease over time.

Sébastien Grenier, a researcher at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal and at the Universite de Montreal, says that when people age, it becomes more difficult for people to think abstractly as well as create images. Grenier also says that virtual reality gets people to experience their anxiety without having to visualize their fear or go somewhere that would trigger it. Health officials say that the system is promising since it is not a drug and does not have any serious side effects.

Virtual reality is a type of technology that has the ability to heal unseen wounds by giving people the power to battle anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and pain. Researchers at the University of Central Florida hope that using virtual reality to reduce the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder it can pave the way for new treatments. In the future, DeepStream games will have the ability to connect to biosensors and researchers at the Universite de Montreal are hoping to conduct pilot studies to see if this type of approach is probable or not.

By Jordan Bonte

Virtual Reality Reporter
Central Florida Future
Science World Report
Main Image Courtesy of US Air Force – Flikr License
Feature Image Courtesy of Ryan Ozawa – Flikr License