Virtual Reality Therapy
Virtual reality therapy or virtual reality exposure therapy, also called as virtual reality immersion therapy, is the practical use of virtual reality technology for psychological or occupational therapy and in affecting virtual rehabilitation. Patients receiving VR therapy navigate through digitally created environments and complete specially designed tasks often tailored to heal a specific ailment. Technology can range from a simple PC and keyboard setup, to a modern virtual reality headset. It is widely used as an alternative form of exposure therapy, in which patients interact with harmless virtual representations of traumatic stimuli in order to reduce fear responses. It has proven to be especially effective at treating PTSD, and shows considerable promise in treating a variety of neurological and physical conditions. Virtual reality therapy has also been used to help stroke patients regain muscle control, to treat other disorders such as body dysmorphia, and to improve social skills in those diagnosed with autism.
Virtual reality therapy uses specially programmed computers, visual immersion devices and artificially created environments to give the patient a simulated experience that can be used to diagnose and treat psychological conditions that cause difficulties for patients. In many environmental phobias, reaction to the perceived hazards, such as heights, speaking in public, flying, close spaces, are usually triggered by visual and auditory stimuli. In VR-based therapies, the virtual world is a means of providing artificial, controlled stimuli in the context of treatment, and with a therapist able to monitor the patient's reaction. Unlike traditional cognitive behavioral therapy, VR-based treatment may involve adjusting the virtual environment, such as for example adding controlled intensity smells or adding and adjusting vibrations, and allow the clinician to determine the triggers and triggering levels for each patient's reaction. VR-based therapy systems may allow replaying virtual scenes, with or without adjustment, to habituate the patient to such environments. Therapists who apply virtual reality exposure therapy, just as those who apply in-vivo exposure therapy, can take one of two approaches concerning the intensity of exposure.
During a Virtual Reality therapy session client wears Virtual Reality head mounted glasses with headphones. During this session the client will see and hear simulated scenario based upon their feared situation. The therapist is present in the room and communicates with the client using headphones to simulate the exposure. Therapist can always select various scenarios to tailor individual treatment needs.
Virtual Reality Therapy has great promise since it historically produces a "cure" about 90% of the time at about half the cost of traditional cognitive behavior therapy authority, and is especially promising as a treatment for PTSD where there are simply not enough psychologists and psychiatrists to treat all the veterans with anxiety disorders diagnosed as related to their military service.