Can virtual reality-based therapy help veterans overcome posttraumatic stress disorder?

© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common among military veterans and together with the often-related anxiety, depression, and psychological and emotional impairment can dramatically affect quality of life. A type of virtual reality (VR) treatment called Graded Exposure Therapy (GET) can improve PTSD symptoms and may also have a positive impact on these associated disorders, as described in an article in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

VR-GET helps sufferers of PTSD face their trauma-related fears rather than avoid them by exposing them to simulated stress-inducing events in a controlled, , monitoring their physiologic responses, and providing training to develop coping skills.

The article "Effect of Virtual Reality PTSD Treatment on Mood and Neurocognitive Outcomes" is coauthored by a team of specialists led by Robert McLay, Naval Medical Center, San Diego, CA, including Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCB, BCN and colleagues from the Interactive Media Institute, Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control, and Virtual Reality Medical Center, San Diego, and the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery National Centers for PTSD, Honolulu, HI.

"Our results indicate improvement of PTSD with VR-GET based on three different measures: neuropsychological, self-report, and clinician-administered scales," says Dr. Wiederhold.

More information: The article is available free on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking website.

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