Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD

Walter van den Broek
December 21, 2009

PTSD Virtual reality

Three fast track articles were recently published on CyberPsychology and Behavior about the treatment of PTSD with virtual reality exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is the most evidence based treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). More than 18 studies have been published on the use of virtual reality exposure treatment for PTSD.

One of the articles is a case series of treatment with virtual reality exposure treatment within the combat theater. Until now this treatment was done at home. In this article a portable set of virtual reality machines was take to Iraq for treatment of PTSD within the combat theater, at the front in Fallujah in Iraq. Camp Fallujah was a Marine base located outside the city of Fallujah. The virtual reality was compared to traditional exposure therapy. This study is the retrospective review of cases, not a randomized prospective controlled trial.

How is Virtual Reality (VR) done?

VR simulation of situations from Iraq and Afghanistan were provided by means of a two-computer system. The client computer provided 3D images of wartime situations viewed through a head-mounted display (HMD). Movement of the HMD and a joystick controller allowed the participant to move and interact with the simulated world. The second computer served as controller and was used by the therapist to control sights and sounds within the simulation to re-create
situations such as a base camp, battlefield, Iraqi marketplace, or military convoy coming under attack

Six patients were treated with VR, four patients with traditional ET. Both treatments were efficacious and there was no significant difference between the two treatments. Moreover, both treatments also equally improved depressive and anxiety symptoms.

This work shows that patients with combat PTSD can be successfully treated with ETs while in a combat theater.

Another article is about a VR adaptive display called EMMA’s World.

It allows a therapist to customize clinically significant environments for each participant, which can vary according to the significance of the trauma for the individual; this is in contrast to other therapeutic VR approaches that focus on simulating the physical characteristics of the traumatic event with high realism. Rather than aiming for realism, EMMA’s World employs customized symbols and personalized aspects to evoke emotional reactions in participants.

They compared cognitive behavioral therapy with cognitive behavioral therapy and augmentation with EMMA’s World. Participants were randomly assigned to the two conditions and treatment lasted 9-12 weeks. The treatments didn’t differ in efficacy.

The third publication is a clinical controlled pilot study. Ten patients were assigned to 3 groups: VR with exposure therapy, exposure in imagination and a waiting list group. The group consisted of 10 elderly war veterans with chronic PTSD in Portugal. In this study VRET also shows promising results, also on depressive and anxiety symptoms.

So it’s time for some larger, prospective double blind randomized studies on VR exposure therapy and the golden standard traditional exposure therapy.

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.org

ResearchBlogging.org
McLay, R., McBrien, C., Wiederhold, M., & Wiederhold, B. (2009). Exposure Therapy with and without Virtual Reality to Treat PTSD while in the Combat Theater: A Parallel Case Series CyberPsychology & Behavior DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2009.0346

Gamito, P., Oliveira, J., Rosa, P., Morais, D., Duarte, N., Oliveira, S., & Saraiva, T. (2009). PTSD Elderly War Veterans: A Clinical Controlled Pilot Study CyberPsychology & Behavior DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2009.0237

Botella, C., García-Palacios, A., Guillen, V., Baños, R., Quero, S., & Alcaniz, M. (2009). An Adaptive Display for the Treatment of Diverse Trauma PTSD Victims CyberPsychology & Behavior DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2009.0353

 

5 Responses to “Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD”

  1. [...] Go to Publisher to continue reading [...]

  2. Science Report » Blog Archive » Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD on December 21st, 2009 at 9:17 am
  3. [...] Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD. How effective is virtual reality in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder?  Dr. Shock at Dr. Shock MD PhD describes studies evaluating the use of the technique in the field. [...]

  4. ResearchBlogging.org News » Blog Archive » Editor’s selections: technology vs. prejudice, the history of grain-eating, and curing PTSD via virtual reality on December 28th, 2009 at 4:38 pm
  5. Cool

  6. Bob on December 29th, 2009 at 8:13 am
  7. [...] Dr Shock offers us a review of the scientific evidence that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be successfully treated with virtual reality therapy, and in fact, VRT is being used to treat PTSD in the combat theater in Iraq.  DrRich had never heard of this approach and is impressed, and is glad that work is being done to help our soldiers who are suffering from this extremely disabling condition. [...]

  8. Grand Rounds Volume 6, Number 16 : The Covert Rationing Blog on February 2nd, 2010 at 10:57 pm
  9. Very interesting information about Virtual Reality exposure therapy for PTSD. For readers that are looking for more information about exposure therapy (of all types), there is a treatment manual for Combat-related PTSD with a chapter on exposure therapy. The manual is available for free at http://www.war-related-PTSD.com.

  10. Anonymous on June 18th, 2010 at 3:35 am
  1. [...] Go to Publisher to continue reading [...]

  2. Science Report » Blog Archive » Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD on December 21st, 2009 at 9:17 am
  3. [...] Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD. How effective is virtual reality in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder?  Dr. Shock at Dr. Shock MD PhD describes studies evaluating the use of the technique in the field. [...]

  4. ResearchBlogging.org News » Blog Archive » Editor’s selections: technology vs. prejudice, the history of grain-eating, and curing PTSD via virtual reality on December 28th, 2009 at 4:38 pm
  5. Cool

  6. Bob on December 29th, 2009 at 8:13 am
  7. [...] Dr Shock offers us a review of the scientific evidence that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be successfully treated with virtual reality therapy, and in fact, VRT is being used to treat PTSD in the combat theater in Iraq.  DrRich had never heard of this approach and is impressed, and is glad that work is being done to help our soldiers who are suffering from this extremely disabling condition. [...]

  8. Grand Rounds Volume 6, Number 16 : The Covert Rationing Blog on February 2nd, 2010 at 10:57 pm
  9. Very interesting information about Virtual Reality exposure therapy for PTSD. For readers that are looking for more information about exposure therapy (of all types), there is a treatment manual for Combat-related PTSD with a chapter on exposure therapy. The manual is available for free at http://www.war-related-PTSD.com.

  10. Anonymous on June 18th, 2010 at 3:35 am
  1. [...] Go to Publisher to continue reading [...]

  2. Science Report » Blog Archive » Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD on December 21st, 2009 at 9:17 am
  3. [...] Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD. How effective is virtual reality in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder?  Dr. Shock at Dr. Shock MD PhD describes studies evaluating the use of the technique in the field. [...]

  4. ResearchBlogging.org News » Blog Archive » Editor’s selections: technology vs. prejudice, the history of grain-eating, and curing PTSD via virtual reality on December 28th, 2009 at 4:38 pm
  5. Cool

  6. Bob on December 29th, 2009 at 8:13 am
  7. [...] Dr Shock offers us a review of the scientific evidence that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be successfully treated with virtual reality therapy, and in fact, VRT is being used to treat PTSD in the combat theater in Iraq.  DrRich had never heard of this approach and is impressed, and is glad that work is being done to help our soldiers who are suffering from this extremely disabling condition. [...]

  8. Grand Rounds Volume 6, Number 16 : The Covert Rationing Blog on February 2nd, 2010 at 10:57 pm
  9. Very interesting information about Virtual Reality exposure therapy for PTSD. For readers that are looking for more information about exposure therapy (of all types), there is a treatment manual for Combat-related PTSD with a chapter on exposure therapy. The manual is available for free at http://www.war-related-PTSD.com.

  10. Anonymous on June 18th, 2010 at 3:35 am
  1. [...] Go to Publisher to continue reading [...]

  2. Science Report » Blog Archive » Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD on December 21st, 2009 at 9:17 am
  3. [...] Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD. How effective is virtual reality in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder?  Dr. Shock at Dr. Shock MD PhD describes studies evaluating the use of the technique in the field. [...]

  4. ResearchBlogging.org News » Blog Archive » Editor’s selections: technology vs. prejudice, the history of grain-eating, and curing PTSD via virtual reality on December 28th, 2009 at 4:38 pm
  5. Cool

  6. Bob on December 29th, 2009 at 8:13 am
  7. [...] Dr Shock offers us a review of the scientific evidence that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be successfully treated with virtual reality therapy, and in fact, VRT is being used to treat PTSD in the combat theater in Iraq.  DrRich had never heard of this approach and is impressed, and is glad that work is being done to help our soldiers who are suffering from this extremely disabling condition. [...]

  8. Grand Rounds Volume 6, Number 16 : The Covert Rationing Blog on February 2nd, 2010 at 10:57 pm
  9. Very interesting information about Virtual Reality exposure therapy for PTSD. For readers that are looking for more information about exposure therapy (of all types), there is a treatment manual for Combat-related PTSD with a chapter on exposure therapy. The manual is available for free at http://www.war-related-PTSD.com.

  10. Anonymous on June 18th, 2010 at 3:35 am
  1. [...] Go to Publisher to continue reading [...]

  2. Science Report » Blog Archive » Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD on December 21st, 2009 at 9:17 am
  3. [...] Virtual Reality for Treatment of PTSD. How effective is virtual reality in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder?  Dr. Shock at Dr. Shock MD PhD describes studies evaluating the use of the technique in the field. [...]

  4. ResearchBlogging.org News » Blog Archive » Editor’s selections: technology vs. prejudice, the history of grain-eating, and curing PTSD via virtual reality on December 28th, 2009 at 4:38 pm
  5. Cool

  6. Bob on December 29th, 2009 at 8:13 am
  7. [...] Dr Shock offers us a review of the scientific evidence that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be successfully treated with virtual reality therapy, and in fact, VRT is being used to treat PTSD in the combat theater in Iraq.  DrRich had never heard of this approach and is impressed, and is glad that work is being done to help our soldiers who are suffering from this extremely disabling condition. [...]

  8. Grand Rounds Volume 6, Number 16 : The Covert Rationing Blog on February 2nd, 2010 at 10:57 pm
  9. Very interesting information about Virtual Reality exposure therapy for PTSD. For readers that are looking for more information about exposure therapy (of all types), there is a treatment manual for Combat-related PTSD with a chapter on exposure therapy. The manual is available for free at http://www.war-related-PTSD.com.

  10. Anonymous on June 18th, 2010 at 3:35 am

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: