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Treating Traumatic Stress with Videogames 78

Posted by Zonk
from the better-than-a-stuffed-bunny dept.
garzpacho writes "Doctors at the Virtual Reality Medical Center are using VR video games to treat post-traumatic stress disorder among vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The software behind the treatment incorporates elements from the military training video game Full Spectrum Warrior, and had some input from designers of America's Army. From the article: 'Dr. Dennis Wood takes patients on what some might consider an odd journey. He starts off leading them to a military compound in Fallujah, Iraq. He then guides them through an Iraqi marketplace before they accompany a patrol through Iraqi homes. And if he thinks they're up to it, he may even take them onto a battlefield, in the midst of explosions and aircraft flying overhead.'"
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Treating Traumatic Stress with Videogames

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  • But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday July 27, 2006 @07:38PM (#15795571) Homepage Journal

    What if my Post Traumatic Stress was caused by video games? [slashdot.org]

    Actually I found any game I played too much of could really mess me up for a few days. Muds were terrible for going around unconciously assessing what level people were and how many experience and gold I could get if I snuffed 'em.

    Now I stick to simple strategy [magnodyne.com] games [sourceforge.net] which only give me unconscious reflexive behaviour to want real estate in bright, shiny primary colours.

    "oh, blue! want that!" "hmm the intersection of ocean and water looks like a good place to harvest wool, wheat and wood"

    I'd probably have post traumatic stress if I even came close to one of these [wikipedia.org]

    • Messed up (Score:3, Insightful)

      This seems like a big dream.


      Our leaders (most who have never seen combat) send our children to fight in a hellhole. The troops get blown to shit, the President attends none of their funerals and the one's that survive, we fly them home and let them play video games to cope.

      • Re:Messed up (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by ackthpt (218170) *

        Our leaders (most who have never seen combat) send our children to fight in a hellhole. The troops get blown to shit, the President attends none of their funerals and the one's that survive, we fly them home and let them play video games to cope.

        And it's all funded by bonds held by the chinese. Makes you wonder who is/was more in the pocket of the PRC, Clinton or Bush.

      • People die in wars. You can't stop doing military operations just because soldiers might die, that's like ceasing law enforcement because cops might die.
    • Hmmm..... silly stuff. A bit of R&R has always been a useful way to get over stress. Why is it news if this happens to include some video games?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's probably not the spider that scares you. I'm not savy enough to break the encryption, but the picture of the spider has something hidden in it. Stegdetect shows that the picture was embedded with a file using the JPHide algorithm. If stegbreaker was working for me I'd figure out what's in the picture.
    • What if my Post Traumatic Stress was caused by video games?

      Like the several times I have dreamed the Quake 1 Cross hair and/or being the Quake guy?
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Friday July 28, 2006 @08:55AM (#15797887) Journal
      What if my Post Traumatic Stress was caused by video games?


      Heh. I'm used to exaggeration and hype, but this has got to take the crown. I really don't think you really mean that.

      Post Traumatic Stress [wikipedia.org] isn't just about "oh, I'm so stressed that my penis size... err... level isn't the highest in the game." It's about intense psychological trauma caused by a believable threat of imminent death, severe physical injury, or something of that order of magnitude. We're taking the kind of stress that happens when the enemy is shelling your position with artillery or MRLS, or a tank is coming at you and the heaviest weapon you have is a SAW, or you see someone's brains blown out before your very eyes, or you get to storm a house and see what a grenade can do in a closed room (there are WW2 veterans who still break down into tears if you ask them about that), or whatever similarly serious.

      Again, we're not talking just "stress", but the "OMG, I'm DEAD one way or another" kind of being scared shitless for your very life and limb. We're talking intense _terror_ where you see no way out. That kind of thing.

      If you get that kind of pure mind-paralyzing terror out of a MUD, and for such a mundane reason as xp and levels... please don't take it as an insult, but as friendly advice: see a good psychiatrist ASAP. If just comparing your score or level to someone else's can trigger such a massively disproportionate reaction, you have major problems. Seriously.

      That or keep your hyperboles less over-the-top if it was just a hyperbole.
  • by fireman sam (662213) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @07:41PM (#15795584) Homepage Journal
    The war in Iraq/Iran/Syria was just a game, nobody *REALLY* got hurt. Now go home and watch some tv... Shhh, it was just a game...
    • The war in Iraq/Iran/Syria was just a game, nobody *REALLY* got hurt. Now go home and watch some tv... Shhh, it was just a game...

      I'm waiting for the game based upon this episode of history. I expect it will be named With Us or Against Us

      • The real question is, does one have to play the Freedom scenario, or can a hot coffee patch [slashdot.org] be applied to select the alternative:

        start them off at a madrasa in Pakistan, [...] then guide then through planting IEDs in the Iraqi marketplace. And if he thinks they're up to it, he may even take them to see Allah in the midst of 72 vigins flying overhead?

  • by rholland356 (466635) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @07:47PM (#15795611)
    A psychiatrist I knew who served in WWII treated shell-shocked vets by introducing them to model railroading--the type where you would build everything from kits.

    Model railroading worked a lot better than the George S. Patton school of rehabilitation.

    I hope these simulated video environments truly help those soldiers who served our country.
    • Why would you want to help them? I thought the current national thinking was that veterans should just "get off welfare" -- at least if the VP is to be believed. Besides, the government has already told us that playing videogames will reliably turn you into a psychotic baby-murderer. You really want to take someone who's been trained to kill and make them into a crazed maniac?
      • Why would you want to help them?

        Because they will be coming home. We should not discard them like we did to our Vietnam veterans.

        I thought the current national thinking was that veterans should just "get off welfare" -- at least if the VP is to be believed.

        Oh, there is very little thinking going on in Washington. Even though he never served in the military, VP Dick Cheney does indeed need healing. I recommend we submit him to endless Halo challenge matches, fully connected to biofeedback devices that

        • I think you missed my sarcasm -- I totally agree that:
          1. Cheney is a complete ass-hat whose only redeeming characteristic is he's just evil, rather than evil AND stupid like Bush Jr. Any government so terrible that it would make conservatives miss Clinton and Gore for their aggressive government downsizing, and liberals miss Bush Senior for his fiscal prudence, is a government that needs to go. You could run an escaped mental patient for president right now and probably do alright in the polls.
          2. Veterans de
    • I hope these simulated video environments truly help those soldiers who served our country.

      Who served the government, the country had different opinion about this war.
      • I didn't say *which* country.

        And no matter where you live, there you are. And when in Rome you do like the Romans. And Romans liked bloodsport--lots and lots of bloody games.

        Video games are our modern form of bloodsport, and if they can be altered to do something good for people who need assistance, then that's a positive development.
  • Tit for tat (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 27, 2006 @07:47PM (#15795612)
    This is truely a remarkable step forward in medical science. Victims of PTSD rejoice! You may now live a productive lifestyle eating cold pizza and tacos while staring at the computer screen. As per yesterday's article it is clear that the experts believe that videogame addiction is far superior to PTSD.
  • umm,,.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Dangolo (974232)
    so they're treating someone who's having a hard time managing themselves in the real world, by submerging them in a virtual world?

    It didn't work out so well for lawnmowerman, or did it?
  • This is great. If they ever send me over there as soon as I get back I going to request this treatment. Play video games instead of going to work... Doesn't get any better than that.
  • Mmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BilZ0r (990457) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @08:04PM (#15795690) Homepage
    ...Or they could just give them MDMA [cognitiveliberty.org]

    Imagine if this immersive techneque really worked, and they tried it for other things; some how I don't think they would get away with showing rape PTSD victims Urotsukidoji - Legend of the Overfiend [wikipedia.org]
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Thursday July 27, 2006 @08:09PM (#15795704) Homepage Journal
    Imagine a drug that could obviate post traumatic stress disorder and Arthur Janov's Primal Therapy. Then imagine a drug that could reduce the emotional impact of sermons about Hell you've heard or of movies you've seen -- movies like "Deliverance" or "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". It has a name and it's "propranolol [harvardmagazine.com]".
  • Anyone else get that erie flashback to Neuromancer?
  • So, will this fix the stress caused by video games themselves?
  • Similar Treatments (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @08:36PM (#15795799)
    My wife was recently diagnosed with MS. The flareup she suffered involved lesions in the area of the brain that deals with balance and nausea. Consequently, her immediate symptoms included severe disorientation and nausea. While these symptoms slowly subsided during her recovery, she was still left with fairly disabling balance issues.

    Once she was finally able to go home, she discovered that different games she played affected her sense of balance in different ways. Two notable examples were Ultima Online and World of Warcraft. The isometric graphics of UO were easily tolerated. WoW quickly made her dizzy. We mentioned this to her rehab doctor who ordered her to add WoW to her routine of home exercises.

    It wasn't the first time we had run in to this advice. We had a contact with Space Medicine at NASA. They had expressed some interest in my wife's condition since the issue of balance is something they work with extensively. One of the interesting side effects of extended space travel is having to become readjusted to gravity; essentially recalibrating your body to properly interpret the effects of gravity. Astronauts will often find themselves easily disoriented and quick to lose their balance during this period of time (it seems to be more pronounced in less-experienced astronauts). One of the treatments to speed recovery is watching a video of motion while running on a treadmill. The video perspective often shifts, challenging the patient's system to properly interpret conflicting perceptions. Our NASA doctor friend saw the issue that he dealt with as very similar to what my wife was experiencing.

    The underlying issue is programing behavioral response. In my wife's case, she is having to re-learn her way around damage. In the Astronauts, they are having to re-learn how to handle stimulus that they had become used to ignoring. I would imagine the soldiers are also re-learning to interpret things in different ways.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      My wife was recently diagnosed with MS.

      I am truly sorry about that. My best hopes and wishes go out to you and her. You might want to consider additional [newscientist.com] treatments [nationalmssociety.org].

      Again, all my hopes and wishes that you both are able to weather that one shitting disease.

  • huh? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by gooberguy25 (915147)
    i dont understand why they are treating people that are bugging out from the war, with more war (even though it is a videogame)
    • i dont understand why they are treating people that are bugging out from the war, with more war (even though it is a videogame)
      I initially thought this, but I think the idea is to have a familiar war setting, but (a) obviously without the danger of actually getting injured (so they can relive experiences in a virtual, controlled world) and (b) depending on the severity of the PTSD not even necessarily have guns/explosions/blood at all.
  • Because a good cry can help when you're stressed.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So that explains why I was able to survive such a fucked up childhood. I played Nes/Snes/Genesis/N64/Playstation and eventually got a computer, which I also played games on. Or mabye I always knew that and I also knew the only use of a scientist is to ramrod their facts down other people's thoughts via a bridge of trust between an "expert" and a "dipshit who believes said expert".

    Games take your mind off of reality and allows existance in a safe place for awhile; if that place is not safe then it is indee
  • Play some doom 3, that will fix you right up.
  • I agree that some computer games are so real, they do cause Post Traumatic Gaming Syndrome [thetoque.com] (PTGS). It's not 20 years ago when you closed your eyes and could still see Tetris blocks falling...falling...falling.
  • I'm really not sure how playing army games will help them with PTSD. If anything, I would suspect it would make them a nervous wreck.

    My parents went through a year of REALLY BAD fighting and I believe I had some mild form of PTSD myself, and would jump/ my heart would race whenever I heard a door slam, or a loud bang, or anyone at all yelling. Even a sudden voice that was somewhat loud would temporarily panic me. I can't believe that watching people yell in real life or on tv or a game would calm me. The on
  • And after they've finished this treatment, they can begin again with their new video gaming addiction [slashdot.org].
  • For BusinessWeek, reassembling broken killers' minds is just another story to plug into its Technology section (indeed one so low in priority they've assigned it to an intern).

    For those miserables whose humanity was stolen from them in this war, however, the aftermath of mass murder is somewhat less of an occasion for sanguine techno-speculation. And so is it for us: as these shattered men rotate back into civilian life, we will see familiar patterns of depression, joblessness, drug addiction, domestic vi

  • Great. Now all I need is a specialized version of the software that leads the user through a forced interrogation where 2 JTF2 officers (Canadian Army), 1 JTF (American), and 2 regular Canadian Army hold you in a van in Toronto for 90 minutes and interrogate you using torture:

    • Taped eyelids with bright floodlights shone in your eyes as you're handcuffed in an interrogation steel chair
    • injection of intravenous phenobarbitols, a.k.a. truth serum
    • an electric shock cuff
    • they'll slap your face with rubbe
    • Forgot to mention:
      • You'd be forced to sign a legal piece of paper that you could not read in your condition. They'd explain it meant "All this was voluntary", and they add you can't be let go until you sign it
      • Before using the shock cuff, they'd try and administer more phenobarbitals from the 100cc syringe taped to your arm. In anger, the junior (Canadian) interrogator would give you too much at once, and you'd fade to black. When you woke up your limbs would be held by officers, and the lead American wo

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