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Virtual Trauma: Could Home VR Affect PTSD Sufferers?

October 30, 2016

For years now, VR has been used to help people overcome fears and in the treatment of conditions such as PTSD, and it’s proven to be extremely successful.

This is because the VR headset is used to enhance an already scientifically proven method of treatment: exposure therapy. Patients are exposed to situations through the VR headset which resemble what they were traumatised by or are fearful of, and by doing this repeatedly the memory loses its emotional potency.

This process, sometimes called habituation, can take a long time and is always done in controlled environments with trained professionals who can support the patient should they become severely distressed.

This raises a question: if someone with PTSD can be triggered by a VR experience safely in a controlled environment, what happens if someone with latent PTSD is triggered in the uncontrolled and unsupervised environment of their own home?

To get a better idea of whether this is something that’s even likely we spoke to psychologist Albert ‘Skip’ Rizzo, who told us that it’s not impossible and is certainly something worth monitoring.

As director for medical virtual reality at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, Rizzo has used virtual reality in treatments himself and his work using virtual reality-based exposure therapy to treat PTSD received the American Psychological Association’s 2010 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Treatment of Trauma.

Read the full article on TechRadar.