VR therapy takes veterans back to 'virtual Vietnam' to heal decades-old trauma: 'A path to peace'

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A landmark virtual reality app geared toward helping older veterans looking for closure and dealing pinch trauma is taking vulnerability therapy to caller places – to nan markets of Hanoi aliases to nan landscapes of Vietnam. 

The caller application, pioneered by immersive exertion institution Mynd Immersive successful business pinch VA Immersive, portion of VA's Office of Healthcare Innovation and Learning, focuses specifically connected Vietnam War veterans, digitally transporting them backmost to places they whitethorn person visited during nan war, truthful they tin activity done trauma and observe a "path to peace."

"We're tapping into nan powerfulness of VR to really, really supply an affectional uplift to these aging veterans," Chris Brickler, co-founder and CEO of Mynd Immersive, told Fox News Digital.

Brickler helped commencement nan institution astir 7 years ago, intent connected improving nan lives of nan elderly, pinch integer therapeutics yet taking style by strengthening nan enslaved betwixt patients and caregivers. "A Path to Peace" is 1 of nan ways it achieves its purpose.


"'A Path to Peace' is really, targeted to those veterans that are 75 and older. About 40% of our organization of older men supra 75 are veterans. So, it's an absolute monolithic percent of older veterans that person survived and person been surviving a batch of times pinch a batch of affectional scars," he said.

"Some veterans spell backmost to Vietnam aliases person complete nan years, and that's a very affectional travel for a batch of folks, but a batch of folks don't person nan mobility to spell backmost now, but would emotion to spell back, and astir apt person immoderate closure aliases immoderate affectional feelings astir those aspects of nan content," he continued.

The task uses crisp, clear high-resolution spherical video to immerse patients successful a number of scenarios, giving disconnected nan belief they are successful a faraway spot without having to make nan travel. The instrumentality utilized for nan therapy almost resembles a ample brace of sunglasses.

"When you're astatine a memorial aliases astatine a beautiful marketplace successful Hanoi, it's really crisp and clear. It's three-dimensional, and you consciousness for illustration you're correct there, truthful it gives a batch of these veterans that would want to spell backmost and salary homage nan opportunity to do that," Brickler said.

Content being built into nan app would alteration veterans to meditate connected a beach successful Vietnam aliases witnesser different areas of nan state that mightiness bring astir peace. Brickler said nan extremity isn't to needfully bring veterans backmost to nan battlefield, but alternatively show them that they contributed to thing humanities and nan warfare was not each for naught.


Dr. Skip Rizzo, head of nan aesculapian virtual reality group astatine nan University of Southern California, is besides advising nan project. He said he has worked successful nan virtual reality section since nan 1990s, during nan early days erstwhile group were particularly skeptical of nan technology. 

"VR sometimes has been seen arsenic immoderate benignant of Star Trek subject fabrication holodeck benignant of thing, but functionally, it's a exertion that allows america to put group successful simulations, successful a controlled manner that helps them to face their fears aliases acquisition affirmative things, aliases get distracted from symptom aliases prosecute them successful activities clinically that they mightiness not ordinarily do pinch accepted therapy," he said. 

"So there's there's a sound rationale for applying it [in therapy]."

Rizzo, successful 2004, helped build retired a strategy geared toward veterans of much caller conflicts, namely Iraq and Afghanistan, rooting it successful a "prolonged exposure" attack that immerses group successful virtual experiences to look their trauma successful a manageable way. 


"We do it successful a measurement that's, I think, much systematic and controllable by putting group successful simulations that ne'er mimic an nonstop replica, but mimic nan types of experiences they whitethorn person had, but astatine a gait they tin handle," he explained. 

"So possibly they sewage blown up successful a Humvee. We don't put them successful nan Humvee and rustle it up astatine first. We commencement off, possibly they're stepping astir by immoderate vehicles and talking astir their acquisition and talking astir what they thought backmost then, arsenic if they're going done it. Then we mightiness put them successful a Humvee and person them beryllium successful it for a while. Then we whitethorn person them thrust connected a roadworthy in, provocative settings. So, by this gradual vulnerability and reprocessing of nan affectional memory, we spot reductions [in PTSD symptoms]."

The exertion is said to thief veterans create mindfulness practices commonly utilized successful therapy, giving nan acquisition a surreal value without nan distractions of nan surrounding world. It is now deployed successful astir 100 semipermanent seasoned attraction accommodation crossed nan U.S., according to a press release from Feb. 6.

Mynd's VR exertion tin besides thief group beyond veterans, including those pinch ADHD, group suffering from chronic pain, nan aged experiencing loneliness aliases changeable victims who request much engaging approaches to rehabilitation.