SoliderStrong donates VR system to treat patients experiencing post-traumatic stress

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US not-for-profit organisation SoliderStrong is moving forward with an initiative to use virtual reality (VR) to treat patients experiencing post-traumatic stress.

Quick read

➨ SoliderStrong signs agreement with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to roll out the initiative

➨ StrongMind is an exposure therapy programme. Its software includes 14 different ‘worlds’

➨ A therapist can choose a world and customise it, recreating the scene of the traumatic incident in the VR headset

➨ 10 VA medical centres across the country to receive the StrongMind VR system

The story

The organisation has signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to roll out the initiative, which will see 10 VA medical centres across the country receive the StrongMind VR system.

StrongMind is an exposure therapy programme. Its software includes 14 different ‘worlds’, including a crowded Iraqi marketplace, a remote Afghan village, a checkpoint in the desert and a forward operating base in the mountains.

Through the hardware and software that SoliderStrong is supplying through the Veterans Health Administration, a therapist can choose a world and customise it, recreating the scene of the traumatic incident in the VR headset and putting the veteran right back in the thick of it.

“Virtual reality treatment shows promise in two key areas,” explained SoldierStrong co-founder Chris Meek. “It is both clinically effective and it reduces the stigma that many service members feel about seeking treatment for their post-traumatic stress.”

“With the rise in popularity of virtual reality in non-medical settings, such as video games, entertainment and even the workplace, there’s convincing evidence that younger veterans will be more inclined to seek treatment using VR techniques than other methods.”

The Veterans Health Administration’s innovative ecosystem will “assist in the facilitation and deployment of the equipment, as well as coordinate the training efforts for the provided equipment and software,” said Dr Ryan Vega, director of its Diffusion of Excellence Initiative.

Vega continued: “Public-private partnerships are an important component in the VA’s ongoing effort to provide the best possible care of America’s veterans.”

“This agreement with SoldierStrong holds great promise to address the highest priority and one of the most vexing challenges we face, which is the need to successfully alleviate the most debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress and reduce the number of combat-related suicides.”

Image credit: SoldierStrong