Can virtual reality help heal soldier's minds?

By Jeff Rowe
10:30 AM

For many reasons, combat veterans often need an extended period of talk therapy when they return home.

As a recent PBS NOVA article describes the process, “prolonged exposure therapy works best when patients can emotionally and cognitively connect with the memory.”

And researchers are finding that virtual reality tools can help.

By “providing visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory cues that can be customized to a patient’s experiences . . . therapists can add in pixelated people, scenery or improvised explosions to make the experience match the patient’s memories as closely as possible.” Peg Harvey, a psychologist and director of the Intensive Program for Home Base told PBS.

“Generally, (virtual reality) can be used as a tool to help folks that are either having difficulty remembering events or difficulty emotionally engaging in the memory. I feel like treatment goes a little more quickly [with virtual reality], and that’s what the research has shown.”