A team of specialists led by Robert McLay of the Naval Medical Center in San Diego included Brenda K. Wiederhold and colleagues at the Virtual Reality Medical Center, Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control, the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and National Centers for PTSD in Honolulu.
PTSD is common among military veterans and together with the often-related anxiety, depression and psychological and emotional impairment can dramatically affect quality of life.
Virtual reality treatment Graded Exposure Therapy helps those with PTSD face their trauma-related fears by exposing them to simulated stress-inducing events in a controlled, virtual reality environment, monitoring their physiologic responses and providing training to develop coping skills.
"Our results indicate improvement of PTSD with virtual reality Graded Exposure Therapy based on three different measures: neuropsychological, self-report and clinician-administered scales," Wiederhold says in a statement.
The findings are published online in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.