News

Facing Down PTSD

November 20, 2017

“We tell patients it’s going to get harder before it gets easier. We’re not bullshitting anybody,” says Dr Albert ‘Skip’ Rizzo on the phone from his base at the University of Southern California. Rizzo is at the forefront of innovative research into how virtual reality ‘exposure therapy’ – exposing a patient to virtual reconstructions of a traumatic event – can be used to treat patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The foundations of this work are in the treatment of military veterans, with a ‘Virtual Vietnam’ developed in 1997 to help veterans still suffering with PTSD four decades after the end of the conflict. Virtual reality was first seriously looked at as a tool to treat terror-related PTSD victims four years later, in the month ­following the September 11 World Trade Center attacks.

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