What is Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT)?

What is Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT)?


Virtual reality therapy (VRT) is a type of therapy where real-world settings and situations are simulated in a controlled setting using virtual reality technology. It’s frequently used to treat a range of psychological and emotional conditions, including addiction, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), phobias, anxiety disorders, and depression.

Patients who receive virtual reality therapy put on a virtual reality headset and are submerged in a digitally created world. These settings can be customized to meet the unique requirements of the patient receiving treatment. A person with social anxiety might participate in simulated social interactions, whereas someone with a fear of flying might be exposed to a virtual airline cabin.

It employs specially programmed computers, visual immersion equipment, and artificially constructed surroundings to offer the patient a simulated experience. Visual and auditory inputs are typically what set off reactions to perceived threats in many environmental phobias, such as speaking in public, flying, at heights, and in confined places. With VR-based therapies, a therapist can observe the patient’s response while artificial, controlled stimuli are provided in the virtual environment for therapeutic purposes.

Types of VR Therapy

  • Exposure Therapy:-In exposure therapy, people are exposed to the settings or circumstances that cause their PTSD, anxiety, or phobias. Therapists can assist patients in confronting and overcoming their phobias by introducing them to these stimuli gradually in a safe virtual environment.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a popular therapy strategy that aims to recognize and alter unfavourable thinking patterns and behaviour patterns. Patients undergoing VR-based CBT participate in tasks and settings intended to refute and question their maladaptive behaviours and cognitive distortions.
  • Mindfulness and relaxation technique reality (VR) can be utilized to create tranquil, peaceful spaces where patients can engage in relaxation and mindfulness exercises. These virtual spaces can aid in stress reduction, anxiety management, and general well-being enhancement.
  • Eye Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, therapy: the main purpose of EMDR treatment is to cure PTSD and other problems associated with trauma. In VR-based EMDR therapy, patients are submerged in virtual settings that mimic their traumatic memories while performing bilateral stimulation exercises (e.g., tracking moving objects with their eyes).

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Key Benefits of Virtual Reality Therapy

  • Exposure therapy- In a secure and regulated setting, VRT enables patients to face their fears or triggers. Over time, this exposure can aid in desensitizing people to their phobias and worries.
  • Customization- Therapists can create virtual settings that are tailored to each patient’s unique demands and difficulties. The efficacy of
    therapy may be increased with this customized strategy.
  • Real-time feedback- During sessions, virtual reality systems can give therapists and patients rapid feedback, enabling in-the-moment modifications and interventions.

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  • Engagement- Patients can benefit from more engaged and pleasurable therapy sessions thanks to virtual reality’s high level of immersion and engagement.
  • Accessibility- Patients can get therapy from the comfort of their own homes thanks to the remote nature of VRT. This accessibility can be especially helpful for people who would find it difficult to get traditional therapy because of physical, geographic, or other obstacles.

Advantages of VR Therapy

  • It offers objective measures of the effectiveness of therapy (limb velocity, range of motion, error rates, game scores, etc. The computer executing the simulation stores this data openly and allows for their public release online.
  • The patient feels more actively involved in the desensitization process when virtual rehabilitation is used in their home and is monitored remotely (becoming telerehabilitation)
  • The patient might “forget” they are receiving care or being observed, leading to more genuine expressions.
  • Possibility of involving patients’ sensory modalities for more realistic treatment environments;
  • Effective in helping hospitals cut expenses due to decreased equipment and medication costs.
  • Entertaining, which motivates the patient.
  • Virtual reality has a significant impact on pain relief

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Disadvantages of Virtual Therapy

  • Cost-effectiveness- Although VRET may offer encouraging returns on investment, the actual development costs of VRET environments are still largely determined by the hardware and software selections made.
  • Effectiveness of Treatment- For a treatment to be effective, the patient needs to be able to project and feel their anxiety in a virtual setting.
    Regretfully, this projection is not under the therapist’s control and is very subjective and unique to each patient. This restriction could hurt the treatment
  • Transitioning from Virtual Reality to the real world- The relationship between virtual reality and the real world is another source of doubt. Does a patient’s success in overcoming their fear in a virtual setting translate to success in the real world? Additionally, in the treatment of more complex illnesses like schizophrenia.

To sum up, virtual reality therapy (VRT) presents a novel and promising method for treating a range of psychological and emotional problems. Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) employs immersive virtual environments to offer a secure and regulated environment where people can face their anxieties, handle stress, enhance their social abilities, and ease pain. Because VRT is adaptable, therapists can modify interventions to fit the unique requirements of each patient, which improves therapy outcomes.

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Treatments for diseases like anxiety, phobias, PTSD, depression, addiction, and more have shown promise when using VRT. Benefits include social skill development, mindfulness training, exposure therapy, and cognitive-behavioural therapies—all in a virtual setting. Virtual reality therapy can also be very helpful for people who might find it difficult to receive traditional therapy because of physical, geographical, or other constraints. Patients will find it more convenient and mental health services more accessible thanks to its potential for remote delivery.

References +
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality_therapy#Efficiency
  • https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/virtual-reality-therapy/

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