Returning Veterans Use Virtual Reality to Fight PTSD

Posted by | August 3, 2009

The PTSD in question being Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which comes quick when a bomb blows the front half of your Humvee into tinfoil. The condition is easy to pick up, and hard to shake. You see, the problem with PTSD is that most sufferers avoid anything that might trigger a memory of some stressful incident. Without a confrontation of their fears, it becomes almost impossible to work through them and come down to a normal state of mind. Instead, the veterans remain on edge, always dreading the next loud noise or sudden surprise.

To help treat this condition, a company called Virtually Better, with funding from the Naval Research Office, created a “Virtual Iraq” environment. Based on the game Full Spectrum Warrior, this program allows the veteran to enter a realistic, but safe, combat environment. Okay, as realistic as Full Spectrum Warrior gets.

Here are two articles about the system, one at WCAX.com in Vermont, and another from Defense-Update.com.

The techniques of creating false experiences to help someone get over the nastier real experiences in their lives is not new. Without the aid of technology, these efforts have been limited to patients imagining things at the prompting of a doctor, or using sounds and images from movies. Virtual reality is far more immersive, and so allows the patient and the doctor to work together on a level beyond conventional treatments.


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