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The Military

Military Uses Virtual Iraq To Treat PTSD 172

Hugh Pickens writes "Traditionally the best treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] — being raped, narrowly escaping the collapse of the Twin Towers, or witnessing a buddy die on the battlefield — is to have the person relive the trauma using his or her imagination. Repeated exposure to the horror can desensitize individuals and help them stay calm enough to reprocess what happened and get beyond it. Now Clinical Psychologist Albert "Skip" Rizzo has developed a program that has had great success in treating returning troops from Iraq. A soldier with PTSD recounts what happened, and a therapist seated before a computer then creates an environment in the program Virtual Iraq that captures the essential elements of the episode. By donning special goggles, the soldier can see a reenactment and while the simulation starts off relatively tame over the course of several weeks, the therapist monitors the patient 's response and more elements of the episode are introduced until the individual can finally go through an intensely vivid recreation of it without being overpowered by terror. Other programs offered to treat PTSD include Virtual Airplane, Virtual Audiences, Virtual Heights, Virtual Storm, and Virtual Vietnam."

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