Virtual reality tops standard therapy in treatment of PTSD

virtual reality tops standard therapy in treatment of ptsd

As increasingly larger numbers of soldiers return from duty in the Middle East, doctors are scrambling to find viable treatments for the host of symptoms associated with prolonged military service. Spending years in the midst of a war, where atrocity and death is a daily occurrence, has undeniably detrimental effects on a person’s psyche, that are only amplified when a soldier is thrust back into civilian life and expected to act “normal.”

For the majority of history (or at least since the stress of war has been a verifiable mental issue) doctors have used drugs and standard therapy measures to treat soldiers, but the success rate of these efforts has always been depressingly low. Fortunately, a new study seems to suggest that virtual reenactments of the horrors of war may hold the secret to alleviating the stress felt by combat veterans.

Researchers at the US Naval Medical Center in San Diego have been running a comparison study between traditional exposure therapy and exposure therapy augmented by virtual simulations. The theory behind both is that by forcing veterans to repeatedly relive whatever event caused their symptoms, their brains can slowly adapt to deal with the trauma and hopefully, eventually allow the soldier to fully cope with the problem.

They key benefit of a virtual simulation is that doctors are able to tailor the experience to each particular soldier’s issue. By recreating the sights, smells, sounds and sensations of a trauma, the doctors believe that soldiers recollections can be more accurately recreated. In turn, this seemingly allows for much more rapid therapeutic results.

To compare the two methods, researchers subjected groups of soldiers to each form of immersion therapy for extended periods of time. After nine weeks of treatment the doctors gauged their patients well-being and while, at that time, it seemed that both forms of therapy were equally useful, testing the subjects three months later had drastically changed the results. The soldiers who were subjected to virtual reality immersion therapy continued to show marked improvement, despite the cessation of treatment, while the gains of those who experienced traditional immersion therapy had largely disappeared.

Why? In war, it has long been thought that soldiers detach themselves from standard emotional response in a subconscious effort to cope with the horrors occurring around them. Greg Reger of the US Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology believes that this virtual reality treatment may more easily allow soldiers to reconnect with “genuine” human emotional responses.

Additionally, Reger believes that tapping these emotions in a virtual reality setting may be more comfortable and intuitive for soldiers of a generation that grew up playing video games, than simply talking things out with a therapist.

Emerging Tech

China says it has developed a quantum radar that can see stealth aircraft

Chinese defense giant China Electronics Technology Group Corporation claims that it has developed a quantum radar that's able to detect even the stealthiest of stealth aircraft. Here's how it works.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Emerging Tech

Glass orb packs all the constellations in the night sky into fancy desk ornament

Ever wanted to know more about the star constellations? A stunning new Kickstarter campaign, taking the form of a fancy desk ornament that re-creates the night sky in a glass orb, aims to help.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX makes rocketry look easy, sticks yet another Falcon 9 landing

SpaceX is due to perform its latest Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing on November 15 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Here's how you can watch the proceedings live.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

In a weighty decision, scientists prepare to redefine the kilogram

Metrologists are meeting at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles to vote on whether to redefine the kilogram as a constant that can be observed in the natural world.
Photography

See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. With no ban on drones in National Forests -- at least, not yet -- filmmakers have a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
Emerging Tech

Google’s balloon internet is coming to Kenya in 2019

In order to bring the internet to those who lack it, a company called Loon is launching balloons into the stratosphere. From more than 12 miles up, these balloons beam connectivity over a large area on the ground.
Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk receives FCC approval to launch over 7,500 satellites into space

Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.