Researchers are exploring virtual reality as a possible post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) therapy option, ABC KSAT reports.
The research is being led by JoAnn Difede, Ph.D., at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian, where she works as the director of the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress.
Difede’s trial is focusing on exposure therapy and the use of virtual reality as a treatment tool.
Using virtual reality, participants are exposed to a variety of computer-generated scenarios that mirror a stressful situation from their past. This individualized aspect is crucial to the study since every PTSD case is unique and every person with PTSD has personal triggers.
The participants relive their personal traumatic scenario once a week for nine weeks. Each session is 90 minutes long.
“The idea of the treatment is to teach the person, their brain, if you will, that those cues aren’t scary anymore. Nothing bad is going to happen,” explained Difede.
This trial is being administered at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, Walter Reed in D.C., and the VA hospital in Long Beach, California.