Over the past decade, the healthcare industry has significantly changed. What used to take days, in terms of results and diagnostic tests, can now be completed in a few hours. Medical professionals today use more state-of-the-art machines and equipment to take care of patients while allowing them to receive treatment anytime and anywhere.
One particular scientific novelty that has taken over the healthcare industry recently is virtual reality. As a result of the advancements in technology, people now have the chance to reach out to their doctors to receive care from the comfort of their home using a VR headset. With this device, patients are placed in a simulated environment that helps them treat almost any health condition in a safer, more convenient and accessible way.
One issue where VR therapy has proven to be very helpful with is overcoming fear and recovering from past traumas. Here are four areas where VR therapy comes in handy.
Overcoming fear of re-injury
When people get hurt, they often think of physical injuries. However, there is also psychological pain that sometimes inhibits a patient’s full-body recovery. In fact, one of the biggest concerns a person or an athlete has is the fear of re-injury.
Fortunately, this fear can be effectively overcome by engaging the patient in virtual reality physical therapy sessions. During these sessions, the individual is placed in an immersive environment that keeps them focused on their rehab, diverting their mind from the physical pain they are experiencing and combating the fear of potential re-injury. This way the patient will achieve the right mindset while improving their movement and strength at the same time.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a health condition that develops in people who have experienced a traumatizing event. Common symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety which often interfere with a person’s day-to-day functioning.
Because the intensity of PTSD varies over time, it is important that patients seek help from mental health professionals to fight the symptoms. VR therapy can come in handy here by immersing the patient in an environment that triggers memories of the trauma, helping them visualize the event and narrating it to the therapist. The VR therapy sessions will gradually modify behaviors, thoughts and emotions in the individual through virtual experiences, thus fighting PTSD effectively.
Treating social anxiety
Social anxiety is a health condition that refers to the intense and persistent fear in people of being watched and judged by others. Such fear can easily affect a person’s relationships, daily routines and other activities, causing significant anxiety, self-consciousness and embarrassment.
There are many ways how patients can combat social anxiety, with engaging in VR therapy sessions being one of the most effective in recent years. The VR technology will enable the individual to engage in a situation that triggers social anxiety, such as public speaking, without having to experience it in real life. During this event, the patient will have complete control over their emotions and stop the session anytime they feel it has gone too far beyond their limits.
Phobias are another common medical condition in people which causes them to experience extreme fear about a situation, a place or an object. It triggers a deep sense of dread or panic when a person encounters the source of their fear, causing difficulties in some areas of their lives.
Fortunately, specific phobias such as fear of flying, enclosed spaces or heights can be effectively treated via VR therapy. Using the VR headset, the patient will be placed in a simulated environment where they will be exposed to the phobia they are suffering from, allowing them to work through their fear in a realistic situation in a safe and comfortable way.
Starting from its debut in the gaming industry, it is clear that virtual reality is making its way into many areas, including healthcare. With the help of a VR headset, patients can now receive care remotely and at any time to treat various health conditions that interfere with their day-to-day functioning. The simulated environment in which people are placed helps them overcome fear and anxiety symptoms that result from injuries and phobias.
For more information on this matter, refer back to our guide and learn about the application of VR therapy in specific healthcare areas.
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