People have been waiting for years for the ultimate in virtual reality gaming, but Oculus Rift might soon be much more than that. Though the technology seems to be a few more years down the road to reach the hands of regular consumers, the headsets are already being evaluated by experts in virtual reality therapy. This is done by immersing the patient into a virtual world to help treat certain mental health problems. Some are describing this as a game changer for the field of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
From Gaming to Therapy
Oculus Rift has become so much more than just realistic video gaming, it is being developed into a powerful therapy tool. In addition to treating PTSD, other experts are using VRT programs to treat phobias, anxiety disorders, and addiction among other mental health problems. VRT works in different ways depending on the issue being addressed. The therapy is used to mimic real-life scenarios that a patient struggles with in a virtual version. Patients who suffer from PTSD or other war-related disorders can use it to reenact certain combat situations that have created certain undesirable triggers from traumatic memories. By using VRT to come face to face with their fears, it can give the patient an opportunity to overcome the fears in a controlled environment and help them lead to a speedier recovery.
Addiction patients can be placed in situations that lead to their triggers such as a drink or a cigarette in an effort to help them create a resistance towards the cravings. The ultimate goal is to get someone's head into the scenarios as much as possible. Two of the main obstacles that need to be overcome are the price point and the technology. Although these systems have shown to improve therapy results, the high price doesn’t allow for its wide reaching use. The second obstacle of technology has come a long way, but until there are zero latency issues it will always appear to be just a simulation instead of an immersion. Even a split second delay of turning your head causes a disconnect from what is going on in front of you. As the price comes down and the technology improves more and more people will be able to benefit from this therapy. Another plus side is the gaming industry, because virtual reality can serve a dual purpose, as the games strive to outdo each other and incorporate more virtual devices it will create an exponential effect for the price and quality to improve.