A recovering drug addict walked into a house party and was welcomed by a friendly young guy rolling a joint who invited him outside to smoke it.
A soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder suddenly finds himself back in Iraq, driving a Humvee along a deserted road on a mission when a roadside bomb went off.
All three of those scenes played out in a computerized, yet alarmingly realistic, virtual world presented here at the Healthcare Information and Managment Systems Society (HIMSS) conference during a session on how virtual reality can be used in a clinical setting.
Although virtual reality is fairly popular for treating PTSD and is gaining traction as a treatment for drug addiction, it hasn’t yet caught on for a wider array of conditions, said Ivana Steigman, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer for Thrive Research, a California-based company that develops online programs aimed at improving behavioral health.
“We can enter a virtual reality that is a different world, be it a battlefield, be it a hospital room,” Steigman explained during a Wednesday morning session on virtual worlds and health.