News By/Courtesy: Sneha Suresh | 26 Jul 2020 12:11pm IST


  • Advancing Tech making strives in Healthcare
  • Different types of therapies showing promising results for various conditions
  • More accessible healthcare in our futures?

With the rate of development and ever-changing dynamics, technology is showing enormous potential into the workings of a human brain. Experts questioned the "risk of virtual reality" to our brains but now, VR is showing promise to combat Mental illness and a new surge of psychological research is revolutionizing VR to diagnose and treat medical conditions from social anxiety to chronic pain to Alzheimer's disease.

 Riding this rising wave of interest in mental health technology, companies creating VR content for therapeutic outcomes are receiving a deluge of attention and funding.

Though VR is widely known to be successful in treating conditions like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) for a while now, newer programs are tackling a much wider range of conditions which include alcohol addiction, teenage depression, claustrophobia and even offers treatments for eating disorders.

An example of how VR tech is being instrumental in dealing with Anxiety disorders is "Aid Exposure Therapy":

In which patients will be exposed to anxiety-inducing stimuli in a safe, controlled, and known environment and help condition and allow the mind to recognize that the threats that cause panic aren't anything to worry about and aren't dangerous.

Someone afraid of heights visits gradually taller buildings through VR under the guidance of their therapist to help tame their fears or a patient with PTSD might revisit the triggering memories in therapy sessions and be exposed with the option of reacting to them. Exposure mainly happens in safe controlled real-world simulations which are highly likely to give an accurate situation and more effective results in the treatment.

It's safer, quicker, and a much less expensive option.

 VR being user-controlled, it gives therapists much more control over the situations they wish to program and expose their patients to which leads to better experiences for the patients and superior treatment outcomes.

Now an effective method doesn't mean there is no room to grow. Optimizing VR content for further advancements could also mean experimenting with other sensory stimuli beyond just visuals i.e., the images we see.

With the rate technology development, it's a safe bet to say VR could augment or replace traditional mental health therapy for some patients. Apps on the market like Joyable walk their users through short activities based on the codes and principles of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, so why can't we expect a similar set up that incorporates Virtual Reality? The accommodation of Virtual Reality and Mental health treatment onto apps would make access to mental healthcare much more widespread especially for those that can't take the time or afford to see in person doctors or also for those that still feel the need to hide or are bothered by the stigma of the concept of "therapy".

This article does not intend to hurt the sentiments of any individual, community, sect, or religion etcetera. This article is based purely on the author's personal opinion and views in the exercise of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 19(1)(A) and other related laws being enforced in India for the time being.

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 26 Jul 2020 17:45pm IST

Tags : Science and Tech, Mental health

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