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Brave Mind: Virtual Reality in the war on PTSD
09 Jul 2013

Brave Mind: Virtual Reality in the war on PTSD

The Institute of Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California, a US Army University Affiliated Research Center, has been developing innovative ways to adapt and advance existing virtual reality platforms in the fight against Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The ICT has used systems as simple as off-the-shelf Microsoft Kinect cameras and as complex as fully immersive and tactile environments to help ailing Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans handle their mental trauma.

Capstone National Partners is proud to be partnered with the ICT. Members of the Capstone team are currently on Capitol Hill presenting ICT’s virtual reality technology to the Congressional Military Mental Health Caucus. At the invitation of Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Jeff Miller (R-FL), the MMHC co-chairs, Albert “Skip” Rizzo, PhD, associate director of the ICT, and his staff are in the Rayburn House office building demonstrating the immersive virtual reality technology to members of the MMHC as well as the House Armed Services Committee.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy immerses the patient in a situation similar to what they find traumatic, but in a completely controllable way. This is commonly a virtual Iraq/Afghanistan where the patient finds himself or herself along a roadway or in a city resembling what caused their mental trauma, but is able to react to and control their surroundings and actions in a therapeutic way. This treatment has shown statistically and clinically meaningful reductions in PTSD, anxiety and depression symptoms. Many of the patients have also expressed anecdotally that their everyday quality of life has risen.

Virtual Reality Resiliency Training is another field of virtual reality therapy. In VRRT, the patient can be exposed to some of the stimuli they are likely to encounter in a hostile or stressful environment. This training can help the participant anticipate and become more resilient to traumatic experiences. The value of this type of training is immeasurable in preparing American warfighters for the mental rigors of overseas deployments.

To see some of the technology in action click here.

For more information, contact Erik Oksala at

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