VR is aiding the diagnosis and treatment of mental conditions from anxiety to Alzheimer’s disease.
FREMONT, CA: When it comes to mental health, experts have always been suspicious of the effect of virtual reality (VR) on the human brain. The current advancements in VR are pointing in the other direction. VR is aiding the diagnosis and treatment of mental conditions from anxiety to Alzheimer’s disease.
Though it’s too early to predict the exhaustive set of possibilities that VR has to offer in the field of medical science, the current advancements are certainly placing it in the positive light. Further, companies engaged in VR content for medical purposes are receiving colossal attention and funding. While VR solutions are being used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the new programs include VR content to combat issues like claustrophobia, alcohol addiction, and teenage depression.
VR-Enabled Exposure Therapy
Current VR solutions are designed to aid exposure therapy, where patients are exposed to his fears using stimuli in a safe, controlled environment, often under the guidance of their therapists. Such exposure is meant for the patients to eventually accept that the threats they are scared from are not dangerous.
Until now, exposure therapy was accomplished in carefully controlled real-world scenarios. However, VR enables the therapists to imitate similar setup inside a VR’s headset, which is a quicker, safer, and a less expensive option.
Challenge: Clear Standards and Rules
The various VR therapies are differently created. Many of the start-up companies develop VR environments that are incomplete and untested by the psychologists. Thus there is a need to establish and standardize the rules that are necessary for the therapies to be effective. The best approach is to determine which condition is going to have a positive impact from a VR as opposed to other treatment methods. For instance, as per the studies, patients with PTSD who are also dealing with depression respond much better to VR therapy than conventional therapies.
Future of VR in Medicine
VR can replace or augment many of the traditional mental therapy for some patients. Moreover, incorporating AI therapists into VR programming can have numerous advantages. For instance, it will increase the accessibility of mental health treatment to people constrained by time or money.