Mental Health recieves virtual reality systemVR

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tori Schultz
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs
"The virtual reality system is a relatively new medium for assisting with treatment. Studies are ongoing at this time, but early studies have shown very promising results," said Capt. John Pistello, 6th Medical Operations Squadron staff psychologist.

November 2013 MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. received a virtual reality system and specific training from Dr. Barbara Rothbaum, post-traumatic stress disorder expert and co-author of prolonged exposure therapy.

The system is comprised of a head-mounted display, headphones, sound-enabled vibrating platform, respirator belt and game pad.

"In using the various components, the system is primarily run through software applications," said Pistello. "We have specific applications to help treat various conditions as well as preventative treatment."

The primary utility of the system is for augmenting treatment for PTSD, but the system can also be used for a variety of psychiatric problems.

"We can also use the system for treating various phobias, such as fear of flying, heights, or public speaking. There are also applications for helping patients with substance use problems," said Pistello. "We have also found the relaxation application is very popular and helpful to most of our patients."

The system seeks to create an immersive environment involving the body's primary senses to simulate a real-life event or environment that is not otherwise attainable in a typical therapy setting. With this capability, mental health can support the therapeutic mechanism of exposure that allows for recovery and improvement of symptoms.