Virtual Reality System May Help Veterans with PTSD

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 11 to 20 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And there is a growing concern for veterans with PTSD who are not receiving proper treatment or are not receiving any treatment at all. Some common forms of treatment include counseling and medication, though new treatments are also arising.

Virtual Reality PTSD Treatment Uses ‘Exposure Therapy’

Bravemind, a virtual reality system which replays scenarios that the vet may have been lived out, was developed by the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. It’s based upon “prolonged exposure therapy,” which is a type of talk therapy that helps the patient recall traumatic events and work through the feelings and emotions that it stirs up.

Researchers are looking into the potential benefits of using virtual therapy as a component; small studies have shown it’s been helpful. Since some may repress memories from traumatic experiences, some believe that virtual reality can help uncover them. Although some vets believe that trying to forget about what happened is the best way to deal with those traumatic events, talking can help process the emotions.

But the system doesn’t just awaken these events through visual animation on a screen. The experience is further intensified by smells and touch. For instance, the seat vibrates to mimic the engine of a Humvee. And a black box emits odors appropriate to the scene, such as smells that associated with a market.

Veterans Disability Benefits for PTSD

Meanwhile, many are struggling to deal with what can be debilitating symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms can include emotional numbness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, anger, insomnia and many other life-altering issues. For those disabled as a result of PTSD, disability benefits may be available. To learn about eligibility, contact the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group