VR Can Help with Mental and Physical Therapy in the Near Future
For lots of people, the arrival of the first wave of the consumer-based virtual reality headsets means that realizing decade-old dreams of transporting themselves into immersive digital worlds. However, entertainment characteristics of virtual reality are absolutely one of their most appealing assets, their use expands well outside the single role. Virtual reality headset creates something like magic when it is put on. In many cases, the mind of a user is influenced by their digital environments, that provides the distraction from the actual world. This convincing feature of the virtual reality has become one of the major topics among the researchers who want this revolutionary technology for the therapeutic uses.
Recently, Valve brought the virtual reality headset Vive to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Children with the severe medical situations including the cancer patients were able to experience the virtual reality for the first time. As valve thought, those children enjoyed their time playing the games such as Tilt Brush, but there was much more to it than that. One of the children who used the Vive headset at the hospital described that the pain from his situation reduced significantly while using the headset. Not only this child remarked how his level of pain reduced significantly during using the headset, but the lasting effects of this treatment continued after leaving the virtual experience. These results are increasingly common as the researchers test virtual reality in a number of cases.
It has become one of the major topics to discuss, with the professional such as the J.J. Bouchard, certified child-life specialist. Experiences of virtual reality allow the patient to visit extraordinary and exotic places that provide the break from the surroundings in the hospitals that most of the adults and children face spending weeks, months, or even years at the hospitals. It is a departure using the virtual reality which has shown enormously positive results, both in the levels of joy expressed by the users and related to the pain relief. Now the virtual reality headsets are in the market for about a month, a large number of new reports have found their way online. Most of these reports focus on the mental therapy offered by the VR experiences such as one in the written post by the user of Reddit Feoen who found himself challenging the social worry in virtual reality.
Feoen described, “So I noticed this Echo room that indicated there were 30 people inside. I jack in, and I am immediately hit with social anxiety. Why am I panicking? I think. This is just a video game; I’m standing in my room with a headset on. No, I am standing in a room with 30 people talking to each other. There’re men, there’re women, there’s music with a beat pumping out of a TV in the corner near the ceiling. People are standing together in all different corners of the room having full conversations with each other.” Feoen said, “I wanted to flee. The social anxiety, the fear of their judgments of me, was immediate. My everyday experience of handling social anxiety was recreated, feeling for feeling, in VR. The psychological consequences of interacting with others were elicited through a completely electronic medium. This is groundbreaking.
People were talking, and I actively did not want to go up and interrupt people’s conversations since that would be rude. I was applying real life logic and social norms to a virtual environment. This added a component to VR that single-player experiences have yet to tap into.” Feoen further explained that he is a clinical psychologist in the trade and there’s big potential to treat people through virtual reality, “This could easily become the norm for exposure techniques in psychotherapy for overcoming Social Anxiety Disorder. I am a clinical psychologist IRL well familiarized with cognitive behavioral techniques, and this is an almost ideal middle ground between imaginal and in-vivo exposure techniques for different forms of anxiety. (and yes, we psychologists experience anxiety too; research is me-search after all) I could easily envision the stereotypical nerdy shut-in who has high anxiety as learning how to manage his or her own anxiety by practicing social skills in a virtual environment like this.”
This report continued with the experience by Reddit user Kezown, who has been batting arthritis because of working behind a desk for years. Kezown said, “I’m a game developer so I spend a lot of time in front of a computer and TV. I have those fancy Herman Aeron chairs at work and home to make sure that I’m sitting correctly, but over the years, I have unfortunately developed arthritis in my lower back (at the tender age of 33). I have tried all sorts of things to try to ease the pain like daily stretches and going to the gym 5 days a week, even the occasional spiff, but none of them have helped.” Kezown then further explained how the room scale experience of the Vive helped him moving around on the daily basis, extending his back muscles while enjoying his time.
He said, “Over the last few days I have spent many hours in room scale, playing games like Audioshield and Space Pirate Trailer really give you a great workout (especially Space Pirate Trailer, what a great game). The main thing is that it’s got me on my feet, being active. On a typical day, I would come home and play CounterStrike or watch TV series with my girlfriend and then go to bed. But now I’m leaping around and dodging bullets (sorry neighbors), and it’s really helped ease my arthritis pain. I am extremely happy with my purchase as it has improved my livelihood and I hope you all are too once HTC ship your Vives and you get a chance to play these amazing games.” As explained by these reports, virtual reality is multilayered and also offers several types of the therapy. Being able to convince the mind of the people it will help with the treatment and reduce pain in some individuals.
Within the setting of the virtual reality surroundings, the user will be able to face and treat the phobias like the social anxiety or fear of heights. In addition to this, motion-oriented virtual reality has shown itself to be the great exercise with the ability to provide the therapy for the individuals that suffer from the back and joint pain. This testing is only in the initial stages, which is the most thrilling component of all these testing. There are certain uses of the virtual reality that are currently undisclosed. As the word get around and the success stories become larger in the number and headsets become more sophisticated. It is possible that there will be more investment in the research and advancement of the virtual reality therapy in the future.