Using VR in Psychiatric Care: ‘This time, we have the technology’

Published: May 20, 2019
Category: News

VR has suffered cycles of hype and deflation as people puzzle over which sectors it has the potential to transform: could it replace the whiteboard as the principle tool in education or is it merely the next platform for gamers? Will it be strictly limited to the world of manual labour or will it fuel a new wave of porn addiction? Despite advances in technology and falling costs, VR has not yet ‘disrupted’ a sector in the way that was promised. The headsets were always too expensive, the graphics too clunky, the need unconvincing.

However, Rizzo believes VR is ready for adoption in mental healthcare. This is “theoretically informed, scientifically supported and now pragmatically deliverable, with advances in lower cost and high-fidelity equipment and easier to use software”. Key to psychiatric care being a good starting point for mixed-reality clinical care is that VR-based psychiatric treatments are not a great step into the unknown: they are based on treatments known to work in the ‘real world’. It is unsurprising then, that study after study (including those conducted by Rizzo’s own group) has shown that treatment using VR simulations can be at least as effective as standard treatments.

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