Virtual reality gaining popularity as a treatment for phobias and PTSD

Virtual reality-based therapies are gaining popularity to treat phobias. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is deploying the technology to help veterans overcome post-traumatic stress disorder. Specially designed video games make veterans fight in a simulated war. "It is a very intense treatment that asks veterans to confront their most difficult memories," says clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Kramer. Exposure therapy is one of the most effective ways of treating anxiety, but one-quarter of patients reject the approach. Only 3% of patients rejected exposure therapy when it was offered in the form of a virtual reality-based therapy, one study found. Virtual reality therapies are not regulated by the FDA if administered via a therapist, but if a company starts marketing the technology directly to consumers, it would fall under the agency's purview. More

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