Researchers Experiment with Virtual Reality Simulation to Treat PTSD

04 Jun 2012

The incidence of post traumatic stress disorder among veterans is likely to reach epidemic proportions as the number of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan increase. The federal administration is under increasing pressure to come up with new techniques to treat this debilitating psychological illness. A team of researchers is experimenting with the use of virtual reality simulations to treat symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

Researchers at the University Of California collaborated with a counseling center in Pasadena to use virtual reality simulations to help veterans with post traumatic stress disorder cope and prevent their symptoms. California veterans benefits lawyers find that this approach is much different from techniques used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in the past. The use of virtual reality doesn’t only help veterans cope with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, but also helps prevent the symptoms altogether.

A person who is using this virtual reality program can control the simulation via a computer, and can program a barrage of visual, audio and even olfactory simulations that are designed to mimic the experience of a military convoy making its way through terrorist-ridden terrain in Iraq and Afghanistan. The user has to wear wraparound goggles and use a joystick, to control his point of view and his reactions. He is required to negotiate the hazards that pop up as he is traveling with his military convoy. The virtual reality program is as lifelike as possible, exposing the veteran to sights, smells and sounds that are as similar to his combat environment as possible.

The study found that veterans, who know clearly that this is a simulation and not reality, suffered very extreme physical reactions when they were placed through the program.