Virtual Reality Goes to War—Advances in the Assessment and Treatment of PTSD

August 7, 2014 | Washington, D.C.

Speaker: Skip Rizzo
Host: American Psychological Association Annual Convention

This panel hosted by Rizzo also includes: Update and Expansion of the Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan PTSD Exposure Therapy System.
The stressful experiences that have been characteristic of the combat environments in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced significant numbers of returning service members at risk for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychosocial/behavioral health conditions. A growing literature has now evolved that suggests that Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) may be a useful approach for addressing this healthcare challenge. This presentation will describe the newly updated “Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan” virtual reality (VR) system for the delivery VRET and a set of projects that are expanding its application for a wider range of trauma experiences. The talk will start with a brief detailing of the factors that led to the initial development of the Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan VRET system and the clinical outcomes that have been reported with its use. We will then discuss the current efforts to update the VRET system with more advanced software to expand the VR content and features based on input from clinical users of the previous 2007 version of the system. Following a description of this new Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan application, we will then focus on a general overview of two new projects that aim to provide relevant and customizable options for conducting VRET with users having a wider range of military trauma experiences, combat medics/corpsmen and victims of military sexual trauma. The talk will conclude with a description of the further expansion of the system to create a VR tool for use to prevent the incidence of combat-related PTSD via pre-deployment resilience training.