Scientists and psychologists at the University of Southern California have developed a
virtual reality program to help treat Iraq war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, NPR's "News & Notes" reports.
The treatment program uses virtual reality goggles, a moving platform, sound and smells to simulate soldiers' experiences in Iraq. A therapist monitors the user's heart rate, skin conductance and respiration and maintains audio contact to guide the patient through therapy.
The program is a type of PTSD treatment called exposure therapy, which guides patients to revisit a trauma and emotionally process the negative experience, Skip Rizzo, a clinical psychologist and research scientist at USC's Institute for Creative Technologies, said.
The military is using the virtual reality program at about 20 sites nationwide (Chideya, "News & Notes," NPR, 3/21).