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Using Virtual reality in Psychiatry

30 Jun


Post traumatic stress disorder(abbreviated PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to one or more traumatic events that threatened or caused great physical harm.It is a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma. This stressor may involve someone’s actual death, a threat to the patient’s or someone else’s life, serious physical injury, an unwanted sexual act, or a threat to physical or psychological integrity, overwhelming psychological defenses.

Vulnerability to PTSD presumably stems from an interaction of biological predisposition, early childhood developmental experiences, and trauma severity. Exposure-based therapy, in which recent trauma survivors are instructed to relive the troubling event, may be effective in preventing the progression from acute stress disorder to post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a report in the June issue of Archives of General Psychiatry (Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65[6]:659-66). But it may not be practical to recreate the trauma or the precipitating circumstances. Like in cases of PTSD in soldiers back from the Iraq war and rehabilitation efforts.


The military is turning to the virtual world to treat traumatized veterans of the Iraq war, giving troops a high-tech way to confront and overcome mental war wounds.Virtual Iraq uses electronically re-created Iraqi environs that look like a video game, as well as the sounds and smells of deployment, to help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder revisit the events that affected them so profoundly.It is a joint venture of the Air Force, Navy and Army, along with the University of Southern California and Virtually Better Inc. The visual environs created for the therapy are based on the video game “Full Spectrum Warrior.”


There are about 40 Virtual Iraq systems in Defense Department and Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics.Virtual Iraq helps PTSD patients access traumatic memories by replicating the war zone in a safe way that therapists can control.

With Virtual Iraq, a troop is back driving a Humvee down an Iraqi highway, or exploring a city on foot patrols. Ambient sound recordings including prayer calls, gunfire, men yelling and taunting, can be varied in intensity by the therapist.The smell of fire, diesel, cordite, body odor and burning rubber are also used to facilitate memory recall and emotional processing.

Mental health therapists hope that Virtual Iraq’s similarity to video games will help draw younger traumatized troops to the treatment.
For more information on PTSD , click here.

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Posted by on June 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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