Mental Disorders Now Treated With VR
At age 22, Nam Min-Ji dropped out of school in South Korea, suffering from social anxiety after which she became a chronic recluse, living in her basement.
Although, common treatment methods to handle her condition would entail psychological consultations, Gangnam Severance Hospital did something out of the ordinary: they proffered VR therapy. GSH made available virtual reality programed with scenarios that depict everyday life to enable her rehearse situations she’d normally face. How cool is that?!!
Nam finally regained self-confidence got back to school and her life after just two months of VR therapy!
Nam numbers among many individuals out there who have required virtual reality therapy to ameliorate mental conditions.
Medications using VR gizmos are not sci-fi anymore; Nam’s story is proof of that.
Worldwide tech companies are currently releasing different VR gadgets and content, with a large portion of them being as of now readily accessible.
South Korea’s tech titans Samsung Electronics Co. and, LG Electronics Inc. now have their own VR gadgets that work with cell phones, trying hard to create a niche for themselves in the industry.
“The study for applying VR technologies to treat disorders started in 2001 in South Korea. The full-fledged development in the program kicked off in 2003,” said Kim Jae-jin, professor of psychiatry, Yonsei University College of Medicine, South Korea.
While application of VR to psychiatry took off over 10 years ago, recent accomplishments the VR tech industry in the last couple of years are bringing social cognizance of the therapy, experts claim.
“Previously, adopting virtual-reality technology on psychological treatments were costly and complicated,” said Kim. “As the technology develops, however, such equipment has now become more affordable and simple.”
In the words of the professor, the improvement of portable VR tech has made the treatment more reachable, unlike VR medications in time past that entailed excessive hardware and wires.
Kim, who runs the virtual-reality center at the GSH, stated that the VR treatment can be useful in ameliorating different psychological instabilities from identity issues to liquor addictions.
The VR-based treatment is not a standalone treatment independent from any other, but rather a supplement that can help patients better conquer their issues. Patients are given VR support alongside customary method for treatment.
The treatment at Gangnam Severance Hospital includes entering a dimly-lit, serene room. The patient is then given VR glasses fitted with a tracking sensor, so that the screen moves in sync with the wearer’s head.
Specialists can choose different situations for the patients based on their issues, for example, “talking with friends,” or “speaking with a boss.” Every scenario presents a CGI character that engages the patients in a conversation. Patients can get conversant with awkward situations, such as standing in front of a crowd.
“For example, those who have trouble with cutting alcohol are given scenarios in which they are asked to have a drink by others. This way, they can practice how to turn down such tempting offers,” Kim said, “adding similar approaches can be made for other addictions like gambling.” “We can find solutions by having patients interact with avatars. This helps them improve relationships with others,” Kim added. “Most of the patients are quite satisfied with the outcomes.”
In order to present more surreal experiences to their subjects the hospital features virtual reality contents that rotate 360⁰.