Marketplace Features Skip Rizzo and Virtual Reality Therapy for PTSD

Published: December 6, 2013
Category: News

As part of their week-long look at the intersection of video games and mental health, American Public Media’s Marketplace program interviewed Skip Rizzo and his work developing a virtual reality therapy system for providing prolonged exposure therapy for treating PTSD. Rizzo said the therapy patients wearing a virtual reality headset are hardly playing a game.
“In a game you have unlimited lives, your mission is to kill things. In this environment, it’s about exposure to the things that you’ve been haunted by,” he said. “This is a tool to extend the skills of a well trained clinician that understands how to deliver prolonged exposure, and over time, people start to go through scenarios that they never thought they could get through, and they start to feel a sense of empowerment. And, you see the reduction in PTSD symptoms in the other treatment, but then once someone has gotten over the hurdle there, all the sudden, you check on them one month, six months later, you see a continued drop in the symptoms, because they’re basically continuing to heal.”
The story noted that Rizzo is using the Oculus Rift headset in his medical virtual reality research. The online version of the story includes a link to a video of Rizzo using the Oclus Rift. Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey worked on developing headsets for Rizzo’s system during his time as a lab assistant in ICT’s MxR Lab.