Virtual reality will help to overcome a fear of heights

We all used to think that virtual reality is an intensely interactive entertainment. However, there are already quite a few developments in which VR technology is used not for games. For example, according to the publication the Lancet Psychiatry, a team of scientists from Oxford University were able to use virtual reality to free people from fear of heights.

The new design borrows not a little from the gaming industry. For example, in the virtual space directs the actions of the patient “mentor” — a specially created avatar. He gives assignments and monitors the status of the person. At the same doctor for the most part is just a bystander, making the system fully Autonomous. For immersion in the virtual world is used quite a standard set of VR headset, motion sensors and controllers to control the character. Itself therapy lies in the fact that the “mentor” takes the patient through a virtual 10-storey building. On each floor the user performs the tasks for overcoming fear. For example, it is necessary to remove the cat from the window, walk along the edge of the cliff, and so on. Changes over time not only height, but also challenges. For example, one of the last levels, the person needs to stand on a small platform that will carry it to high altitude. According to the author, a clinical psychologist Daniel Freeman,

“In carrying out these tasks, a person accumulates memories of that height is subject to specific rules safe. And this is opposed to the old prejudice of fear.”

To verify that the therapy was selected 100 people who had a fear of heights. 49 people were treated with virtual reality, and 51 people did not receive any treatment. Before the test, and upon its completion, patients filled out a questionnaire indicating a fear of heights.

The results of the application of VR treatment

Testing has shown that those people who took VR therapy, an average fear of heights has declined by about 25 points, moreover, after treatment, the respondents noted that it was now safe to go to places before never would go (e.g. mountains). A reduction of fear of height was maintained even 2 weeks after treatment. As one of the participants in the experiment

“When I was worried about the fact that I was standing on the edge, I felt heaviness in the legs. Now it is not. I still react to altitude, both in VR and in reality. But that sense is now short, and I can feel that my legs are softened, of which takes the tension”.

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