Virtual reality & therapy Skip Rizzo @ Otago university

Visitng professor Skip Rizzo ran a full day workshop on the potential uses and benefits of VR in a range of clinical settings. Borne from an 'unholy' alliance of academics, the US military and Hollywood professionals advances at the Univerity of Southern California, Institute for Creative Technologies.

Advances in VR have allowed a range of therapy options to become accessible and available to a range of new client groups.Many of these advances have been facilitated through military spending on follow up care for veterans of 2 middle eastern wars. As with many advances facilitated through military spending, such as mobile technology this also serves a wider community than just ex-service men.

When war ends the memories persist...when these are causing long term trauma, exposure therapy in VR offers a chance to return with support

VR obviously allows a person to experience a range of events within a therapeutic setting. Going to an office and being able to experience a range of exposure therapies, treating anything from fear of spiders to anxiety with a headset has been shown to be just as efficacious as real world therapy. It is worth noting that this is not a substitute for clinical care, but offers a tool to be used by professionals. Skip went on to demonstrate a range of results indicating VR's efficacy in PTSD scenarios.

Exposure therapy for PTSD is literally hard medicine for a hard problem...but it works.

In addition to exposure therapy, VR has been used as a distraction for people in pain, allowing a fully immersive experience as a paid modulation tool. With disabilities it has applications as a therapy tool for people engaging with physical therapy, which benefits form the gamification of small and large motor movement, or as a practice and learning tool for people who struggle with social situations.

Taken together with the advances in accessibility, pricing and ergonomics of various VR kits this field of human computer interaction is only beginning - we look forward to putting our HTC Vive to work at the hive soon.

Created By
Ann Cronin

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