In this feature written for Gamasutra sister site Serious Games Source
, which deals with games created for training, health, government, military, educational and other uses, Imprint Interactive Technology's Ari Hollander provides a comprehensive study on Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy, which is currently being examined in several contexts as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).
In this excerpt from the article, which is fully named 'Playing Games with Painful Memories: Designing VR Exposure Therapy Simulations for PTSD', Hollander gives some insight into his thoughts on why he believes virtual reality can and will continue to play an important role in the treatment of PTSD:
"Virtual reality (VR) provides a tool that can allow therapists to gradually intensify a simulation of the traumatic events rather than relying on pure talk and storytelling. With VR, therapists have been able to bring out memories and stories that might have otherwise been inaccessible. Patients may also be more willing to seek VR therapy than conventional therapy, because of the stigma attached to conventional therapy (and the tendency of PTSD patients to avoid situations where they have to recount their traumatic experiences).
At the time of this writing, virtual reality exposure therapy for PTSD is a fairly new idea. At Imprint Interactive, we have been involved with a number of PTSD VR exposure therapy research projects, one of which has already been used to successfully treat patients. These include a simulation of the tragic events of 9/11/01 (We made minor modifications to the application originally built by Howard Abrams for Difede and Hoffman, 2002), a simulation of a terrorist bus bombing for a research group at the University of Haifa in Israel, and two simulations for treating U.S. soldiers returning from Middle East conflict.
Although the last three projects are still in their early phases, our ongoing communication with the therapy research teams including Dr. Hunter Hoffman, Dr. Sarah Miyahira, Dr. Ray Folen, Dr. Tamar Weiss and others has suggested some general ideas for how we might structure the technical components of the design process."
You can now read the full Serious Games Source feature on the subject
, including more of Hollander's thoughts regarding the application of VR toward the treatment of PTSD (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).