VR improves treatment options for people with PTSD
The Veterans Administration estimates that 17 U.S. veterans die by suicide every day on average. Behind many of these deaths is PTSD.
Now, there is growing optimism about how technology is improving treatment options.
Science shows that virtual reality (VR) is an effective approach for treating combat-related PTSD and military sexual trauma PTSD.
The approach uses exposure therapy, a “tried and true” approach, in a more modern and interactive way.
“We help them go back, confront and reprocess difficult emotional memories, but in a safe environment and a clinician’s office with support. By doing this gradually over and over again over time, we see a statistically significant and clinically significant reduction in symptoms of PTSD, ”said Dr. Skip Rizzo, director of the medical virtual reality group at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies.
Rizzo has done extensive research on how virtual reality can treat combat-related PTSD. He found that VR treatments often outperform traditional clinical approaches. He believes that technology activates emotionally and causes people to face things that they might not otherwise be able to.
“The simple answer is we do it because science, you know, shows it works and it works better than, you know, pat someone on the shoulder and say, ‘don’t worry about it. trauma, ”Rizzo said.
His research also found that patients with combat-related PTSD actually prefer virtual reality treatments to traditional treatments. He says virtual reality makes treatments more accessible since patients can do them at home.
“We’re not talking about self-help here. We’re still talking about remote-delivered therapy provided by a licensed, certified and well-trained clinician who made a correct diagnosis, ”said Rizzo.
Virtual reality has also been proven to work in teaching combat troops coping methods prior to deployment.
Rizzo hopes it can one day be used to treat civilian patients with PTSD and those who experience trauma on the job, such as medical workers and police.