Virtual Reality Now Being Used to Treat Bipolar Disorder

The medical benefits of using virtual reality (VR) are becoming evermore apparent as the technology develops. Medical professionals are looking to VR to either train future doctors or as treatment for a number of different psychological conditions. Researchers are now trying VR to treat people suffering with bipolar disorder.

In a recent article by Aljazeera, researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London and King’s College Hospital are looking at how VR videogame technology could be used to help those with mental health issues learn to deal with the disorder in a safe environment alongside traditional treatments like psychotherapy and medication.

Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings, switching from severe depression to hypomania.

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The researchers are using Oculus Rift head-mounted displays (HMD) with various different types of software to trigger emotional responses, as the immersive aspect of VR has the same effect as real life, creating anxiety, joy and other emotions.

King’s College Hospital has a cutting edge VR lab with motion sensors around the room to enable full motion tracking of users in the VR environments. The hospital has created software that simulates the London Underground or being on a bus to test how users react to situations with members of the public, which is especially useful for patients suffering psychosis or schizophrenia.

It’s still early days for this type of treatment, with only a handful of researchers offering a VR option but this may develop as the technology does.

VRFocus will continue to follow the progress of VR in medicine and report any further updates.

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