Although the majority of VR headlines coming out these days revolve around gaming, virtual reality can really help in other areas of life; one such area receiving funding and research is the area of mental health. Recently various tests have been carried out by UCL and ICREA-University on people suffering depression, an unfortunate and increasingly common illness. Each person suffering depression had an avatar created and this avatar was shown in virtual reality helping a crying child. The majority of people who experienced this therapy showed reduced symptoms.
So how did it work? Well the patients put on a VR headset to achieve a perspective from their avatar. As they talked to the child it gradually stopped crying responding positively to the interaction. Then cleverly the patient was given the view from the virtual child so could see their own avatar offering compassion. One of the professors behind the trial, Mel Slater, quotes ‘We now hope to develop the technique further to conduct a larger controlled trial … if a substantial benefit is seen, then this therapy could have huge potential”.
Over the next couple of year we expect to see a lot more health care companies and technologies engage with virtual reality to achieve a positive outcome for patients. In fact take a look now at the likes of Firsthand who created a game to help those suffering from extreme burns.
TheRealitySandwich team will keep an eye out on any new and interesting VR medical experiments and trials.