Virtual Reality Therapy for PTSD

virtual reality therapyA new study has evaluated the use of virtual reality therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and found positive results.[1] PTSD is a common disorder among military veterans, and it is often accompanied by anxiety, depression, and psychological and emotional impairment.1 When suffering from PTSD, a person’s quality of life is dramatically reduced.1

Researchers have studied a new type of virtual reality therapy called Graded Exposure Therapy (GET) and found that it can help to improve PTSD symptoms and may also have a positive impact on related disorders.1

Unfortunately, many health care professionals do not understand the benefits of exposure therapies, believing that it exacerbates symptoms.1 Individuals with a history of PTSD actually prefer exposure therapies over other treatments, as it helps them improve their symptoms and regain control of their lives.1

Graded exposure is a great form of exposure therapy, as mildly feared stimuli are targeted first, followed by more strongly feared stimuli.1 As the patients come to overcome their fear of the smaller things, they are prepared to tackle the larger fears.1 It provides personal comfort to patients.1

The virtual reality therapy GET works by helping PTSD sufferers confront their trauma-related fears.1 Instead of avoiding them, patients are able to face them through a simulated stress-inducing event in a controlled and virtual reality environment.1 The patient’s physiological responses are monitored while the event is viewed, and training is then provided to help the person develop coping skills.1

“Our results indicate improvement of PTSD with [virtual reality treatment] GET based on three different measures: neurological, self-report, and clinician-administered scales,” said researcher Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA.1

Previous studies have found that after treatment has ended, 90 percent of patients had a significant reduction and fear and avoidance and 65 percent no longer had a specific phobia.1

[1] Nauert, R. (2014). Virtual Reality Therapy May Reduce PTSD Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/03/26/virtual-reality-therapy-may-reduce-ptsd-symptoms/67634.html

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