MRI images have shown that the areas of the brain affected by pain quiet down when the test patient is immersed in a virtual world. Moreover, thousands of clinical research studies have been published showing that using VR to manage chronic pain, anxiety and depression leads to positive outcomes. In particular, this treatment offers hope for dementia patients, who may experience all three of the above issues.
- Dr. Albert Rizzo’s lab at the University of Southern California helped military veterans with PTSD by offering exposure therapy in virtual environments.
- The Veterans United Foundation has created virtual reality experiences of veterans’ memorials, for vets who can’t travel to see them.
- Scientists at the Chronic Pain Research Institute have tested a virtual meditative walk, meant to manage pain and stress.
- In the 1990s, researchers at the University of Washington developed SnowWorld, an icy virtual environment that reduced pain for burn victims during wound treatment.