San Diego, CA, United States

The Virtual Reality Medical Center

www.vrphobia.com
San Diego, CA, United States

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Riva G.,Instituto Auxologico Italiano | Riva G.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Banos R.M.,University of Valencia | Banos R.M.,CIBER ISCIII | And 6 more authors.
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking | Year: 2012

It is generally assumed that technology assists individuals in improving the quality of their lives. However, the impact of new technologies and media on well-being and positive functioning is still somewhat controversial. In this paper, we contend that the quality of experience should become the guiding principle in the design and development of new technologies, as well as a primary metric for the evaluation of their applications. The emerging discipline of Positive Psychology provides a useful framework to address this challenge. Positive Psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning and flourishing. Instead of drawing on a "disease model" of human behavior, it focuses on factors that enable individuals and communities to thrive and build the best in life. In this paper, we propose the "Positive Technology" approach-the scientific and applied approach to the use of technology for improving the quality of our personal experience through its structuring, augmentation, and/or replacement-as a way of framing a suitable object of study in the field of cyberpsychology and human-computer interaction. Specifically, we suggest that it is possible to use technology to influence three specific features of our experience-affective quality, engagement/actualization, and connectedness-that serve to promote adaptive behaviors and positive functioning. In this framework, positive technologies are classified according to their effects on a specific feature of personal experience. Moreover, for each level, we have identified critical variables that can be manipulated to guide the design and development of positive technologies. © Copyright 2012, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2012.


McLay R.N.,Naval Medical Center San Diego | Wood D.P.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center | Webb-Murphy J.A.,Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control | Spira J.L.,National Centers for PTSD | And 3 more authors.
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking | Year: 2011

Virtual reality (VR)-based therapy has emerged as a potentially useful means to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but randomized studies have been lacking for Service Members from Iraq or Afghanistan. This study documents a small, randomized, controlled trial of VR-graded exposure therapy (VR-GET) versus treatment as usual (TAU) for PTSD in Active Duty military personnel with combat-related PTSD. Success was gauged according to whether treatment resulted in a 30 percent or greater improvement in the PTSD symptom severity as assessed by the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) after 10 weeks of treatment. Seven of 10 participants improved by 30 percent or greater while in VR-GET, whereas only 1 of the 9 returning participants in TAU showed similar improvement. This is a clinically and statistically significant result (χ2=6.74, p<0.01, relative risk 3.2). Participants in VR-GET improved an average of 35 points on the CAPS, whereas those in TAU averaged a 9-point improvement (p<0.05). The results are limited by small size, lack of blinding, a single therapist, and comparison to a relatively uncontrolled usual care condition, but did show VR-GET to be a safe and effective treatment for combat-related PTSD. © Copyright 2011, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


Wiederhold B.K.,Virtual Reality Medical Institute | Wiederhold B.K.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center | Riva G.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Riva G.,Instituto Auxologico Italiano
Studies in Health Technology and Informatics | Year: 2013

The European Commission identified active and healthy ageing as a societal challenge common to all European countries, and an area which presents considerable potential for Europe to lead the world in providing innovative responses to this challenge (http://ec.europa.eu/active-healthy-ageing). To tackle the challenge of an ageing population, the European Commission launched the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Active and Healthy Ageing. What can cyberpsychology offer to this process? After presenting the main features of cyberpsychology, this paper identifies in patient engagement and positive technologies the key assets that will allow the technological innovations constantly being developed to provide greater help and care in enabling elderly people to live more normal, happier, fulfilling lives. © 2013 Interactive Media Institute and IOS Press.


Graffigna G.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Barello S.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Wiederhold B.K.,Virtual Reality Medical Institute | Wiederhold B.K.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center | And 3 more authors.
Studies in Health Technology and Informatics | Year: 2013

Despite the fact that older adults are healthier than in the past, the current trend of an ageing population implies an increased risk and severity of chronic diseases. Low-resource healthcare systems face increased organizational healthcare costs, which is likely to result in an allocation of limited health resources. Healthcare organizations themselves must deal with patients' increasing need for a more active role in all the steps of the care & cure process. Technological advances may play a crucial role in sustaining people's health management in daily life, but only if it is 'ecologically' designed and well-attuned to people's health needs and expectations. Healthcare is more and more called to orient innovative research approaches that recognize the crucial role of a person's engagement in health and well-being. This will enable patients to reach a higher quality of life and achieve a general psychophysical well-being. Thus, positive technological innovation can sustain people's engagement in health and invoke community empowerment, as we shall discuss in this document. © 2013 Interactive Media Institute and IOS Press.


Kleim B.,University of Zürich | Wilhelm F.H.,University of Salzburg | Temp L.,University of Basel | Margraf J.,Ruhr University Bochum | And 2 more authors.
Psychological Medicine | Year: 2014

Background Sleep benefits memory consolidation. Here, we tested the beneficial effect of sleep on memory consolidation following exposure psychotherapy of phobic anxiety. Method A total of 40 individuals afflicted with spider phobia according to DSM-IV underwent a one-session virtual reality exposure treatment and either slept for 90 min or stayed awake afterwards. Results Sleep following exposure therapy compared with wakefulness led to better reductions in self-reported fear (p = 0.045, d = 0.47) and catastrophic spider-related cognitions (p = 0.026, d = 0.53) during approaching a live spider, both tested after 1 week. Both reductions were associated with greater percentages of stage 2 sleep. Conclusions Our results indicate that sleep following successful psychotherapy, such as exposure therapy, improves therapeutic effectiveness, possibly by strengthening new non-fearful memory traces established during therapy. These findings offer an important non-invasive alternative to recent attempts to facilitate therapeutic memory extinction and consolidation processes with pharmacological or behavioral interventions. © Cambridge University Press 2013.


Wiederhold B.K.,Virtual Reality Medical Institute | Wiederhold M.D.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking | Year: 2010

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex, multifaceted disorder encompassing behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and physiological factors. Although PTSD was only codified in 1980, there has been an increasing interest in this area of research. Unfortunately, relatively little attention has been given to the psychological treatment of motor vehicle accident survivors, which is remarkable because vehicular collisions are deemed the number one cause of PTSD. As the emotional consequences of vehicular collisions prevail, so does the need for more effective treatments. Randomized controlled clinical trials have identified exposure-based therapies as being the most efficacious for extinguishing fears. One type of exposure-based treatment, called virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET), provides a safe, controlled, and effective therapeutic alternative that is not dependent on real-life props, situations, or even a person's imagination capabilities. This modality, while relatively new, has been implemented successfully in the treatment of a variety of anxiety disorders and may offer a particularly beneficial and intermediary step for the treatment of collision-related PTSD. In particular, VRET combined with physiological monitoring and feedback provides a unique opportunity for individuals to objectively recognize both anxiety and relaxation; learn how to manage their anxiety during difficult, albeit simulated, driving conditions; and then transfer these skills onto real-life roadways. © 2010 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


Wiederhold B.K.,Virtual Reality Medical Institute | Gao K.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center | Sulea C.,Virtual Reality Medical Institute | Wiederhold M.D.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking | Year: 2014

We explored the use of virtual reality distraction techniques for use as adjunctive therapy to treat chronic pain. Virtual environments were specifically created to provide pleasant and engaging experiences where patients navigated on their own through rich and varied simulated worlds. Real-time physiological monitoring was used as a guide to determine the effectiveness and sustainability of this intervention. Human factors studies showed that virtual navigation is a safe and effective method for use with chronic pain patients. Chronic pain patients demonstrated significant relief in subjective ratings of pain that corresponded to objective measurements in peripheral, noninvasive physiological measures. © Copyright 2014, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2014.


McLay R.N.,Naval Medical Center San Diego | McBrien C.,Marine Corporation Base Camp Pendleton | Wiederhold M.D.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center | Wiederhold B.K.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking | Year: 2010

Exposure therapy (ET) has been observed to be an effective modality for the treatment of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Recently, efforts have been made to use virtual reality (VR) to enhance outcome with modes of ET. How such therapy applies to service members who are facing the reality of a combat deployment has been unknown. This case series documents the first use of VR-based therapy to the treatment of PTSD in a combat theater. Results of therapy are reported from a mental health clinic in Camp Fallujah, Iraq. Combat PTSD constituted a relatively small percentage of overall mental health patients seen. Those who did present with PTSD were offered VR-based ET or traditional ET. Patients who received either treatment modality showed significant gains, and no service member in treatment had to be medically evacuated because of ongoing PTSD symptoms. This demonstrates that ET, with or without the use of VR, can be an effective means of helping service members with mental health issues while they serve in theater. © 2010 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


Wood D.P.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center | Wiederhold B.K.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center | Spira J.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking | Year: 2010

Virtual-reality (VR) therapy has been distinguished from other psychotherapy interventions through the use of computer-assisted interventions that rely on the concepts of "immersion," "presence," and "synchrony." In this work, these concepts are defined, and their uses, within the VR treatment architecture, are discussed. VR therapy's emphasis on the incorporation of biofeedback and meditation, as a component of the VR treatment architecture, is also reviewed. A growing body of research has documented VR therapy as a successful treatment for combat-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The VR treatment architecture, utilized to treat 30 warriors diagnosed with combat-related PTSD, is summarized. Lastly, case summaries of two warriors successfully treated with VR therapy are included to assist with the goal of better understanding a VR treatment architecture paradigm. Continued validation of the VR treatment model is encouraged. © Copyright 2010, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2010.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 98.98K | Year: 2010

This proposal will leverage recent and current projects led or co-led Drs. Mark and Brenda Wiederhold of The Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC) to mitigate or prevent stress-related disorders as a consequence of participation in military operations. These projects include developing objective pre- and post-deployment predictors of PTSD, testing pre-deployment resiliency interventions, and stress inoculation training (SIT) validation and longitudinal tracking. These assessments and interventions complement current Battlemind concepts and resources (www.battlemind.org). The effort will conduct research to identify and evaluate a multi-modal approach to providing effective psychological combat resilience. The technical challenge will be to develop a comprehensive potential solution that will combine neuro-pharmacological approaches that will inoculate against the damaging neural effects of stress pre-traumatic exposure or prevent the harmful changes in neural function post-traumatic exposure. We will focus on a cognitive approach that emphasizes resilience building through a controlled stress exposure intervention (e.g. immersion in VR), with planned validation through both physiological and biochemical testing. The desired research outcome is a capability that demonstrably reduces the prevalence of combat stress injuries in military personnel.

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