Virtually recreated environments allow patients to confront themselves with their addictions, fears or phobias.
Taking into account the progress that patients have made, medical experts will soon use virtual reality to treat alcoholism, a recent study suggests. The idea first came to Doug Hyun Han, a medical investigator at the Chung-Ang University Hospital in Seoul, who has noticed that patients’ behavior can be noticeably improved due to virtual reality headsets.
There has been much talk recently in relation to the uses that scientists and lay people may bring to virtual reality headsets. These devices, which have been mostly used as game consoles until recently will now be integrated in various domains of people’s lives.
In addition to their business and educative roles, researcher Doug Hyun Han claims these devices could also be used to treat alcoholism and other similar addictions. His declaration relies mostly on the findings of his recent medical study.
Han has gathered a group of 12 individuals suffering from alcohol additions and asked them to undergo virtual reality sessions twice a week for a five-month period. The patients were confronted with three different types of scenarios in order to reject alcoholic beverages and to change their self-destructive behavior.
The first situation placed patients in a relaxed environment where the individuals were not influenced by other people to drink alcohol. The second scene was more ‘tensed’ as the patients would have to imagine themselves in a bar or a similar environment where alcohol is heavily consumed.
Thirdly, patients would experience the smell, sensations and sounds of people feeling sick from too much drinking in the third part of the experiment. Thus, they would no longer feel tempted to drink, either.
Han compared the condition of the patients both before and after the tests and noticed that their behavior was much better after the virtual reality sessions. Brain scans showed that the cerebral area responsible for patients’ desire to drink was much more similar to the one of the healthy individuals after the experiment.
The researcher has concluded that virtual reality headsets could be successfully used in the treatment of other psychological affections. These devices are incredibly effective especially in the treatment of phobias and fears as they enable patients to confront themselves with their psychological problems using virtually recreated environments.
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