Date: 07 May 2011

Virtual Reality Goes to War: A Brief Review of the Future of Military Behavioral Healthcare

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Abstract

Numerous reports indicate that the incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in returning OEF/OIF military personnel is creating a significant healthcare challenge. These findings have served to motivate research on how to better develop and disseminate evidence-based treatments for PTSD. Virtual Reality delivered exposure therapy for PTSD has been previously used with reports of positive outcomes. This article details how virtual reality applications are being designed and implemented across various points in the military deployment cycle to prevent, identify and treat combat-related PTSD in OIF/OEF Service Members and Veterans. The summarized projects in these areas have been developed at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, a U.S. Army University Affiliated Research Center, and this paper will detail efforts to use virtual reality to deliver exposure therapy, assess PTSD and cognitive function and provide stress resilience training prior to deployment.