Monday, 19 February 2007

Virtual Reality Therapy

University of Southern California - Two scenes from therapeutic virtual reality scenarios (I.C. enhanced 2007)Here's news which rang three of Coxsoft Art's bells: art, computers and psychology. Researchers at the University of Southern California have used video-games-quality virtual-reality scenarios to help US soldiers returned from Iraq overcome post-traumatic stress disorder. (In 2004 a study at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research found that nearly one in eight US soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan reported some symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms might include depression, nightmares and flashbacks.) The new hi-tech therapy system combines animated graphics with sounds, smells and a chair that can rock the subject as though he is in a vehicle. The difference between this system and a top arcade game is that a therapist guides the "player's" experiences, from easy situations to traumatic ones. Initial results on a handful of volunteers look promising. The idea of persuading psychiatric patients to relive traumatic experiences in a safe environment is the conventional wisdom of psychotherapy. However, studies of holocaust survivors in Israel have contradicted this idea: patients with the best therapeutic outcomes were those who could forget!


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