Month: November 2014

Virtual Reality-Based Therapy Can Help Overcome PTSD and Other Disorders

In the recent past, virtual reality has attracted much attention as a potential method for psychotherapy to treat patients with phobias, addictions, anxiety disorders andposttraumatic stress disorder. Various techniques based on virtual reality—such asvirtual reality immersion therapy (VRIT), and virtual reality graded exposure therapy (VR-GET)—have been experimented with and proven to be very effective.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Exposure Therapy

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop when a person goes through one or more traumatic events such as sexual assault, serious injury, narrowly escaping death, domestic violence or watching a fellow soldier die on the battlefield.

People with PTSD typically suffer from disturbing recurring flashbacks, hyperarousal, bad dreams, frightening thoughts, emotional numbness and strong feelings of depression, guilt and worry.

Exposure therapy, a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) technique, is the most widely employed tool to help victims manage PTSD symptoms. By helping patients to confront—rather than avoid—the memory of the traumatic event, exposure therapy techniques support the ability to overcome anxieties and fears.

Using other relaxation techniques, victims slowly gain control over responses to traumatic events and learn to cope in a much better way. Exposure therapy has been found to be very effective in treating PTSD, and has a high success rate in treating patients with specific phobias.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Virtual reality, with its advanced visual immersion devices, specially programmed computers, and three-dimensional artificially created virtual environments, takes exposure therapy to a whole new level—allowing the patient to confront a traumatic experience in a safe and controlled manner.

The most extensive research regarding the applications for VR-based therapy for treating posttraumatic stress disorder was funded by the Office of Naval Research, starting in 2005. This initiative was part of a program to develop new technologies to assist combat veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan in managing PTSD symptoms.

Using new software, hardware, simulations, physiologic monitoring, skills training and therapeutic methods based on Virtual Reality, scientists have experimented with exposing combat veterans to their traumatic experiences in a graded manner.

The advantage of this VR-based Graded Exposure Therapy (VR-GET) is that it helps patients who find it difficult to identify or talk about a traumatic event—which impacts the ability to learn the required skills to cope with a number of anxiety-inducing situations.

In this setting, the combat veteran relives the traumatic episode in a simulation that captures the essential elements of the event—all in a safe and controlled manner—while trying to recognize and manage any excessive autonomic arousal and cognitive reactivity.

Read a full article here.

Brussels Microsoft Innovation Center Hosts VR Event

Microsoft Innovation Center in Brussels hosted the first VR meetup on Friday 14 November. Event was sponsored by Impulse Brussels.

The goal of events like this is to create a true eco-system in the area of virtual reality. Leading companies such as Darkfield (Germany), Jaunt VR (USA), Video-Stich (France), VR Factory (Netherlands) and Belgian companies like VRMI, Virtuix and SoftKinetic have presented their innovative solutions in the field of virtual reality. More than 200 people attended the event. Three areas that were covered during the event included health, marketing and gaming. Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) was pleased to have the opportunity to chair the VR for healthcare breakout session.  Companies in the session included VR4child and SurgeVRy.

The good news for the virtual reality community is that these type of gatherings will be held regularly from now on. The next Virtual Reality meetup is scheduled on 21 January in 2015.


The event was widely covered in the local media. You can read the stories below.

Impulse réunit les stars de la réalité virtuelle – Solutions Magazine

Les startups bruxelloises s’emballent pour la réalité virtuelle – L’Echo

Bienvenue dans l’ère de la réalité virtuelle – Canal Z


Games for Health Europe Conference

International forerunners of applied gaming and healthcare once again landed in Utrecht on October 27 & 28 for Games for Health Europe Conference. The conference brought together researchers, medical professionals and game developers to exchange the latest innovations regarding applied games. 57 speakers from Europe, US and Japan came to share the latest innovations in applied game industry, as well as 20 Universities and academic hospitals were involved. The topics focused on business of cutting-edge games, game design, games for rehabilitation and disease management, health behavior change, biofeedback, cognitive health, nutrition and health education. Brenda Wiederhold from the Virtual Reality Medical Institute presented a design of a mobile app that could empower children to overcome fears. Kristina Augustinaite attended this conference as a press officer for the VRMI.