Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using war games to treat post-traumatic stress disorder

Date:
May 16, 2011
Source:
Springer
Summary:
Soldiers may benefit from virtual reality applications for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A new study reviews how virtual reality applications are being designed and implemented across various points in the military deployment cycle, to prevent, identify and treat combat-related PTSD.

Virtual reality offers returning soldiers 'psychotherapy by computer' to treat PTSD. For those soldiers worried about the stigma associated with seeing a therapist, virtual reality applications for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be the alternative to the traditional "talk therapy." A new paperΉ, by Albert Rizzo from the University of Southern California, Institute for Creative Technologies, Los Angeles, and his team, reviews how virtual reality applications are being designed and implemented across various points in the military deployment cycle, to prevent, identify and treat combat-related PTSD.

Their findings are published online in the June issue² of Springer's Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, specially dedicated to contemporary psychological advances as they apply to soldiers and their families.

The stressful experiences that characterize the Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom war fighting environments have produced significant numbers of returning military personnel at risk of developing PTSD. At the same time, virtual reality (VR) has stepped into clinical practice, as a result of technological advances that have made it feasible and cost-effective to run VR systems on a personal computer.

What Rizzo and team's work shows is that VR is able to deliver exposure therapy -- the number one therapy recommended for PTSD -- by immersing returning soldiers in simulations of trauma-relevant environments. The emotional intensity of the scenes can be precisely controlled by the clinician in collaboration with the patients' wishes. VR allows multi-sensory and context-relevant cues that evoke the trauma without exclusively relying on the patient to actively remember and imagine actual experiences (as is required in traditional exposure approaches).

Rizzo and team review their immersive virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) system for combat-related PTSD. Their application consists of a series of virtual scenarios, based on accounts by returning soldiers of what it is like out there in a war environment.

Their clinical results to date are encouraging. One test in particular found that 80 percent of those who completed treatment with this system showed clinically meaningful reductions in PTSD, anxiety and depressive symptoms. In addition, anecdotal evidence from patient reports suggests improvements in their everyday lives for at least three months after treatment.

The researchers are also exploring other applications for their system, including stress resilience training i.e. to teach soldiers coping strategies prior to deployment to better prepare them for the types of emotional challenges they are likely to encounter in the combat environment. Another area of interest for the system is the identification of those soldiers who are ready to get back into the field versus those who need further treatment or more time between deployments.

According to the authors, this new approach to psychotherapy has widespread ramifications: "The current generation of young military personnel, having grown up with digital gaming technology, may actually be more attracted to and comfortable with participation in virtual reality exposure therapy. The need for treatments to address the mental health needs of our military personnel, alongside the virtual revolution that has taken place, has led to a state of affairs which stands to transform the vision of future clinical practice and research."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Albert Rizzo, Thomas D. Parsons, Belinda Lange, Patrick Kenny, John G. Buckwalter, Barbara Rothbaum, JoAnn Difede, John Frazier, Brad Newman, Josh Williams, Greg Reger. Virtual Reality Goes to War: A Brief Review of the Future of Military Behavioral Healthcare. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s10880-011-9247-2

Cite This Page:

Springer. "Using war games to treat post-traumatic stress disorder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516121539.htm>.
Springer. (2011, May 16). Using war games to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516121539.htm
Springer. "Using war games to treat post-traumatic stress disorder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516121539.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) — New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) — The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins