In the United States, a research center has developed a new medical treatment based on virtual reality. It is aimed at patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and aims to place the patient in the context of his own trauma. The researchers hope that this may allow these people to regain control of their lives.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of severe anxiety disorder that manifests itself following a traumatic experience . It is a question of a psychological reaction following a situation during which the physical (or psychological) integrity of the patient – or that of those around him – has been the subject of threats or direct attacks.
In a statement released on April 27, 2021, the non-profit research center UCF RESTORES presented a new breakthrough medical treatment based on virtual reality (VR). The objective? Place the patient in the context of their own trauma. This center located at the University of Central Florida in Orlando (USA) is currently carrying out clinical tests to verify the effectiveness of the method.
To be eligible, participants must be at least 18 years old, live in the United States and, of course, meet the criteria for the diagnosis of PTSD. Patients must follow a pre-treatment evaluation, two weeks of treatment (accommodation at the center) and finally, a post-treatment assessment. According to UCF RESTORES, the first results of the trials are quite encouraging.
The center's approach is to combine the new VR treatment (exposure therapies) and individual (or group) therapies. In addition, a large proportion of the patients participating in the trials suffered war-related trauma . For its research, the center therefore received support from the United States Department of Defense to the tune of 3 million dollars. Let us recall in passing that the US army is currently using virtual reality as a suicide prevention tool among soldiers.
Until now, UCF RESTORES used VR processing based on a third-party system which ultimately limited its capabilities. From now on, it is a question of a tool allowing an intensive exposure of two weeks. It is about recreating scenarios reproducing personal experience of each patient. By immersing them in their traumatic memories, it would be possible to allow them to regain the upper hand. However, these positive results could then reverberate in real life.