Fear of heights can be OVERCOME using virtual reality study reveals!
The Virtual Reality (VR) Treatment Program at the Duke Faculty Practice offers a new human-computer interaction form of therapy for individuals with anxiety disorders due to fear of heights, elevators, thunderstorms, public speaking, and flying.
After an initial diagnostic interview is conducted to ensure that the service is appropriate for the presenting problem, participants are placed in a computer-generated three-dimensional virtual world and guided through the selected environment. Computer graphics and various display and input technologies are integrated to give the user a sense of presence or immersion in the virtual environment.
The therapist then guides the participant through the environment and can interact with them through the entire event. Research indicates that 6 to 12 sessions are required to achieve maximum benefit. The advantages of VR over traditional exposure therapy are:
Increased Safety and Control
Less Risk to Patient’s Confidentiality
Unlimited Repetitions of Feared Situations..and many more
Researchers say the use of VR has produced significant benefits, after testing it on 100 patients with long-term height phobias
Fear of heights can be beaten by using virtual reality to simulate being perched on a 10th-floor balcony, a study claims.
Psychiatrists at Oxford University tested the therapy on 100 volunteers who had the phobia for an average of 30 years.
They put on VR headsets and were “taken” to an office building, where they started low before gradually getting higher.
Tasks included crossing a rickety walkway, rescuing a cat and playing the xylophone on the edge of the virtual 10th floor.
More than three-quarters were later shown to have reduced their anxieties by half.
“We designed the treatment to be as imaginative, entertaining, and easy to navigate as possible,” Professor Daniel Freeman from Oxford University said. “So the tasks the participants were asked to complete included crossing a rickety walkway, rescuing a cat from a tree in the building’s atrium, painting a picture and playing a xylophone on the edge of a balcony, and finally riding a virtual whale around the atrium space!”
‘The results are extraordinarily good,” Freeman continued. “We were confident the treatment would prove effective, but the outcomes exceeded our expectations. ”
VR could tackle other issues such as depression and addictions, Freeman added.
By Greg Wilford, The Sun