Virtual Reality therapy helps treat PTSD and cognitive impairment

By James W. Huckfeldt Jr.: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Imagine having the power to temporarily escape your current reality for a virtual one. While this might sound like “The Twilight Zone,” our story of Navy Reserve Veteran Sharon Thompson has a happy ending.

“Virtual reality puts me in a different atmosphere, almost like my own little world,” Thompson said. “I felt happy, like I was there, and the experience was real.”

Thompson was one of the first Veterans to try the new virtual reality systems donated by Soldier Strong. Her sessions included paint by number and matching objects of similar shapes and colors. The virtual reality simulator consists of a headpiece to view the altered reality and sensors hooked up to each hand, bicep and back.

“Virtual reality is another tool in our kit to help Veterans with PTSD and cognitive impairments improve relaxation techniques and range of motion,” said Carl Vinson VA Recreation Therapy Supervisor Jane Helsing. “We can monitor and track progress on a tablet controlling the programs being used by the Veteran.”

Other programs can be added

Data collected through these interactions can be compared over time to illustrate therapeutic progress. Other more challenging programs can be added to enhance therapy sessions and achieve loftier goals.

Thompson, who deployed to Iraq, struggled with PTSD after redeploying home and is currently receiving inpatient treatment at Dublin VA.

Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) facilitates the emotional engagement of patients with PTSD during exposures to the multiple sensory stimuli made possible by the virtual environment, bypassing symptoms of avoidance and facilitating control on the part of the therapist.

This is according to the research paper, “Efficacy of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy in the Treatment of PTSD: A Systematic Review.”

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