How Virtual Reality is Helping Patients Recover
Consumer applications for virtual reality may be what gets all the press, but VR isn’t just fun and games, it’s already making a difference for people suffering from a variety of medical conditions.
Easing Phantom Limb Pain – Researchers are using virtual limbs to help amputees battle phantom limb pain. Patients are wired with sensors that respond to stimuli from their brains to manipulate virtual limbs in a way that emulates how real limbs behave. As patients identify the virtual limbs as their own, they’re able to move and flex them in a way that relieves phantom pain.
Recovering from PTSD – Virtual environments are being used to treat PTSD in survivors from a variety of traumas, including war, car accidents and sexual assault. The virtual reality environments allow PTSD sufferers to re-experience stressful events from their past, which can help with the recovery process.
Relief for Burn Victims – Researchers have used a virtual reality game called SnowWorld to help distract burn victims from the debilitating pain they face during treatment. Soldiers who played SnowWorld reported that the time they spent thinking about pain dropped from 76 percent to 22 percent while playing the game.
Helping People with Autism – Virtual reality is being used to help prepare people with autism for job interviews. People with autism spectrum disorder often have difficulty expressing themselves, and the training software is designed to help them learn to communicate effectively in a job interview situation.