If there’s one thing we can agree on in this country, it’s that we want to take care of veterans when they return from combat. We want to support them in living productive lives, in which the traumas of war no longer haunt them. In order to do so, we need to innovate, to be forward-thinking, and to combine science and proven therapeutic methods to build new approaches to an old problem: Post Traumatic Stress.
That’s what the team at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies is doing. Albert “Skip” Rizzo and his team are using virtual reality — a technology in the midst of booming growth — to help combat veterans fully process and recover from PTSD. In Rizzo’s “Bravemind” program, patients revisit painful memories in a VR setting, under the care of a trained therapist. This sense memory allows them to access the memory clearly and, in doing so, to fully process it. It’s a revolutionary type of exposure therapy that has so far netted promising results.
Exposure therapy isn’t new, of course, but having the “exposure” take place in the safe setting of a therapist’s office, with virtual reality so precise that it even involves added scents, does indeed seem revolutionary.