Virtual Reality Subjection Therapy In The Treatment Of PTSD

The purpose of this newspaper is to give a comprehensive literature overview of Virtual Reality Therapy (VRE) in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in fight troops from the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan Battle. Traditional exposure solutions such as imaginal or in vivo publicity introduce the opportunity of avoidance, a disorder natural in PTSD, and patients may exhibit difficulty imagining or describing their traumatic experience at length. However, VRE therapy eliminates this possibility since it allows participants to be immersed in a digital environment through the incorporation of audio, visible, olfactory, and tactile stimulation in a human-computer interactive program. VRE remedy creates a multimodal experience for the participant because it taps into all sensory modalities, which essentially provokes an authentic re-creation of their distressing experience. With VRE remedy, the therapist can match the patient's personal narrative to a online environment, allowing patients to confront their traumas, while helping them in the modification of dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs to lessen PTSD symptoms.

Exposure Remedy in the Treatment of PTSD in Battle Soldiers

Post-Traumatic Stress disorder, or PTSD, is a persistent and devastating condition that occurs in those who have been subjected to an extreme life intimidating or a traumatic experience. Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the North american Psychiatric Connection (2002), symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing of the initial stress through nightmares or flashbacks, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms that greatly disrupt and impair one's life. PTSD symptoms often intensify when the average person is exposed to a stimulus resembling the original trauma.

Virtual reality therapy, or VRE remedy, is a suggested treatment option for battle veterans exhibiting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. The therapeutical methodology allows patients to become immersed in a digital environment that shows fight veterans' region of deployment. Users do not only observe images on the screen in a passive manner; in simple fact, they are actively participating and interacting with a computer-generated three-dimensional world that may be a digital reconstruction of the content and environment that look like their original injury. Practitioners can immediately administer the computer-generated environment to the patient within any office and personalize the stimuli and situations to every individual case, such that it will resemble the initial trauma, and empower the individual to take control of the memory.

VRE therapy allows the patient to become engage more emotionally, rather than having to recount an event mentally, which might bring about the recall of the stress in a flat, numb, or emotionless manner, resulting in an avoidance of the problem. Traditional exposure remedies require that the patient imagine the distressing experience through memory in as stunning details as possible. The patient repeats the procedure repeatedly until the stress is reduced. However, patients going through VRE therapy still retell the traumatic experience, nonetheless they are witnessing a number of computer-generated stimuli in a program which allows them to view the knowledge in a concrete manner. The patient wears a head-mounted display, or video spectacles, while either using or traveling a simulated convoy or military vehicle, as the therapist matches the function with the patient's personal narrative of the injury. Because of this, the incorporation of varied stimuli throughout a therapy time can significantly reduce the problem of patients expressing difficulty psychologically envisioning the anxiety-provoking displays VRT can offer stimuli for patients who have difficulty in imagining anxiety-provoking displays or are too troubled and scared to experience real situations.

According to Van Etten and Taylor (1998), although behavioral therapy through exposure is a lot far better over other treatment plans for PTSD related symptoms, most members communicate difficulty envisioning their distressing experiences. You can see the rationale behind VRE remedy because there is a significant difference between a patient repeatedly having to close his eyes to recount and picture the situation as opposed to retelling the storyline and getting the same type of event happening through the screen of virtual places and sounds. Prior to the program of VRE remedy, the existing standard of care for the treating PTSD was imaginal publicity therapy, which involves repeatedly reliving a traumatic event through recollection and imagination by having a organized graded hierarchy. The desired consequence is a de-conditioning of the discovered connection of fearful stimuli invoking a fearful or stress and anxiety producing mental response through the procedure of habituation and extinction. Although this form of treatment is low-threat, many patients may be unwilling or unsuccessful in the attempt to effectively visualize the traumatic event. In addition, avoidance of the reminders of the distressing event is usually a condition inherent in PTSD.

Research shows that the engagement of sentiment and dread activation play an essential role in publicity therapy; in simple fact, the lack of emotional engagement in creativity on area of the client may result in treatment failures or unfavorable treatment effects (Jaycox, Foa, & Morral, 1998). Behaviorally, avoidance is what keeps the stress alive; however, with VRE remedy, it allows the therapist to put the patient back the moment in a progressive and manipulated manner, which facilitates emotional handling and minimizes avoidance. Successful treatment necessitates the mental processing of worries structure to be able to change their pathological elements, so that the stimuli no more invoke dread. VRE therapy diminishes the likelihood of distraction and avoidance to the feared situation or stimuli. The treatment goal is to help veterans come to terms with what they have observed in war areas by immersing them in the places and sounds of these similarly experienced during combat, which include the aesthetic and audio effects of the gunshots.

VRE remedy can create stimuli at a greater magnitude than standard in vivo or imaginal subjection techniques. VRE therapy serves a sensible purposes as it expands the shared experience between your patient and the therapist within the confines of any office since "it might be impossible to get clinicians on the battlefield with fight PTSD clients, which is currently impossible to share the clients' imagined moments" (Rizzo, Rothbaum, & Graap, 2006). The merging of therapy with technology allows the therapist to regularly expose the individual to the traumas, instead of merely relying on their imagination. An benefit of VRE includes the ability to administer the therapy within the therapist's office, lowering the risk of damage or embarrassment for the client, and the capability to control the contact with the stimuli. The repeated engagement of worries composition through VRE remedy in a safe, managed environment enables the individual to practically re-experience the distressing happenings in a controllable manner that allows for habituation and a decrease in anxiety, which thereby, allows the incorporation of new information that occurs. The remainder of the paper will discuss the use of VRE remedy to different conditions involving combat veterans exhibiting PTSD.

Virtual Vietnam

Participant Selection

Researchers at Emory University or college developed the first virtual reality request for the treating PTSD to a Vietnam battle veteran. In Rothbaum et al. 's (1999) research study, a 50-season old Caucasian man, had offered as a Vietnam helicopter pilot and attained the DSM-IV-TR criteria for PTSD, major depressive disorder, and substance abuse 20 years following a Vietnam Battle. Despite completing treatment at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, he still exhibited the depressive symptoms and suffered with PTSD. During treatment, the individual was exposed to two virtual conditions, involving a digital Huey helicopter traveling over Vietnam and a landmass encircled by jungle.


The treatment was implemented in fourteen, 90-minute periods conducted bi-weekly over 7 weeks. The procedure involved exposing the patient to both music and visual effects in a virtual jungle. The exclusive helicopter included may seem of the rotor, gunfire, bombs, engine motor may seem, and radio chatter. The visual effects included flashes from the jungle, helicopters traveling overhead, landing and take off, fog, as well as the terrain below the helicopter. The sound results included recordings of gunfire, helicopters, mine explosions, and men yelling requests, such as "Move out! Move out!" All of these effects could be increased in level. As the patient is exposed to the visible and sound stimuli, the individual is asked to describe the explicit remembrances brought about by the computer-generated virtual environment many times in today's tense. That is to induce habituation and decrease anxiety.

Unlike standard subjection therapy, the patient is confronted with the images and scenes being detailed in his personal narrative of the ram in real-time, as opposed to re-living the encounters psychologically. The therapist endeavors to match the virtual certainty experience as strongly as it can be to the patient's recounting of the stress. In addition, the individual is asked to keep his sight open to be able to confront the fearful stimuli. During the process, therapist is able to view the digital environment that the patient is getting together with on a video tutorial monitor. Because of this, the therapist can communicate with the individual and further extended contact with the fearful stimuli until anxiety is habituated, therefore the ultimate goal is to make the trauma turn into a memory, rather than flashback or nightmare that handles them. The therapist can change online situations to best suit the individual patient during a standard therapy time. By steadily re-introducing the patients to the experience that prompted the injury, the recollection becomes tolerable.


Results from the VRE therapy indicated that the patient experienced a 34% cut down on clinician-rated PTSD, as well as a 45% lower on self-rated PTSD. In addition, results of the trial indicated a reduction in his avoidance credit score and a noticable difference on all methods of PTSD, as well as maintenance of the gains 6 months after the supervision of the publicity therapy (Rothbaum et al. , 1999). Furthermore, melancholy, anger, and drug abuse were not adversely affected. Although statement is quite limited in scope and can't be generalized across all fight veterans exhibiting PTSD since it is merely one subject, the results have implications for future research in the treatment component for fight veterans with PTSD. The analysis was later followed by an open professional medical trial with 16 Vietnam men veterans, which followed the same steps as the original Virtual Vietnam circumstance. Results from the follow-up research uncovered that after 13 VRE therapy sessions, there is a significant reduction in PTSD related symptoms (Rothbaum, Hodges, Ready, Graap, & Alarcon, 2001). Such results claim that the utilization of virtual fact, coupled with valuable technology, may be a promising treatment approach for veterans with combat-related PTSD.

Virtual Iraq and Afghanistan

The College or university of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and Virtually Better, Inc. (VB) also initiated a digital reality application for the treating PTSD in coming back Iraq or Afghanistan Battle military personnel. Virtual Iraq and Afghanistan is currently being applied in the next locations: Madigan Army Medical Center at Foot. Lewis, the Naval INFIRMARY in NORTH PARK, Camp Pendleton, Emory University, Weill Medical University of Cornell University, and at 24 other Veterans Affairs military and lab sites. Results from the Naval INFIRMARY in San Diego from a scientific sample trial revealed statically and clinically meaningful reductions in PTSD symptoms, including stress and depression. In addition, corresponding to Reger, Gahm, Rizzo, Swanson, and Duma (2009), the individual reports suggested, "They saw improvements in their everyday life situations. "

Unlike VRE therapy for Vietnam Veterans, the task takes a few steps forward in realism through the incorporation of olfactory and tactile stimuli into the online Iraq and Afghanistan environment. Olfactory excitement is delivered via a computer device called Ha sido-1 Aroma Machine, which utilizes eight fragrance cartridges, a series of supporters, and an air compressor providing scents to the individuals. Olfactory stimuli integrated in the exclusive program include smoke, burning up plastic, garbage, body scent, diesel gasoline, Iraqi spices, and gunpowder. In addition, Virtual Iraq and Afghanistan has tactile input in the software through the proper execution of vibrations that reverberate on the client's floor program. Explosions, gunfire, or the movements of a armed service vehicle over uneven pavement can trigger the tactile source.

With similar delivery features as those in Virtual Vietnam, like music and visual effects, and the simultaneous delivery of olfactory stimuli and tactile activation, the result is the creation of your multimodal experience for the participant since it taps into all the sensory modalities. Because of this, this enables the participant to become immersed in the online environment through the senses. Various scenarios of the landscape can be found such as small rural villages, desert bases, desert convoys, city building interiors, and checkpoint patrolling. Overall, the result is an improved sense of presence in the environment. However, the most important feature of the program is the incorporation of the clinical program that is easily customizable to the needs of your client, as there exists such great versatility in the therapist's ability to keep an eye on and modify customer anxiety through the many sensory stimuli.


VRE therapy provides a framework by allowing individuals to process their feelings relevant to the stress in a healing manner, engage in extinction training, and eventually reduce the symptoms from the conditioned fearful stimuli to the psychological reactions (Pitman, Orr, Forgue, de Jong, & Claiborn, 1987). The therapist can perform this by helping the individual in modifying the dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs through cognitive restructuring. The existing express of VRE remedy necessitates further need of research, even if creators from the Virtual Vietnam research found a reduced amount of PTSD symptoms and a diminishing of PTSD symptoms in 45% of them (Rothbaum et al. , 1999). Virtual Vietnam and Virtual Iraq and Afghanistan are instances that utilize VRE remedy; however, they have obvious restrictions.


Although unlike traditional publicity remedy methods, VRE remedy allows the individual to relive the distressing experience through confrontation in a exclusive presence, alternatively than mere thoughts and storage area recall, the sense of digital presence is dependent on the particular participant may bring psychologically. VRE therapy requires that the participant quit their sense of physical existence in their current environment for virtual occurrence in their traumas to truly be effective. In other words, members must immerse themselves onto the digital world. Corresponding to Glantz, Rizzo, and Graap (2003), members must separate their overall sense of occurrence in their current real-time world by the exclusive environment. Results from prior VRE remedy results show you that the longer subjects continued to be in the electronic environment within and between sessions, there was a reduction in the sense of occurrence between the current environment and the online world, even with minimal stimuli (Rizzo, Schultheis, Kerns, & Mateer, 2004).

Thus, how VRE remedy affects treatment result primarily depends after not only the virtual content itself, but it also depends on the amount of the participant's willingness to partake in imaginary presence. Furthermore, the physical features of program, such as color image resolution, amount of interactivity between the participant and this program, the amount of realism in the virtual environment and its own stimuli, and specific perception of the therapist's capability to match this content with the personal narrative. These qualities of the VRE program can't be ignored because they all contribute to meaningful content and the patient's capability so subjectively confront the trauma. Therefore, how well the content represents the trauma, in regards to mental symbolism and realism take into account treatment efficiency. However, VRE therapy should be supplemented with other varieties of assistance, including medication and public service.


Although the books is bound since VRE therapy has recently emerged for the treatment of PTSD, findings from the research has implications for future applications of VRE remedy in the treating specific phobias, including fear of flying, concern with public speaking, the fear of being in certain situations, and different other scenarios. Furthermore, the use of VRE therapy could aid in the assessment fight readiness and stress reduction for soldiers, when the programs are being used as combat simulators. Virtual fact systems can help troops increase their competency and certainty in the battlefield. Through online certainty training simulations, military can become aware of dangerous situations.

VRE therapy allows researchers to help expand understand the role of emotions in training situations or fight situations alike, which has implications for the possible protection of PTSD symptoms, such as nightmares, insomnia, and flashbacks, after an come across with a traumatic experience. Most of all, VRE remedy allows researchers to understand the extent of how battle and war activities can condition and impact the role of emotions in one's life later on.

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