Technology That Helps Patients Overcome Fears
Is there something that you're really scared of? Well, you're not alone.
It's estimated that 10 percent of all adults have some kind of phobia. Treatment often involves exposing patients to the very situations they're afraid of.
Hofstra University's Saltzman center in New York is just one of the many places across the country where therapists are giving this exposure therapy a virtual twist.
Fear of flying is a common phobia. This virtual reality helmet is going to simulate the entire flying experience from start to finish.
They are closing up the doors. Oh, this is not fun.
Ok, here we go. A therapist is guiding me through the entire processhe's speaking into a microphone that's wired into the helmet.
The flight is made as realistic as possiblethanks to a chair that shakes when bad weather hitsincluding realistic flashes of lightning.
How are you feeling right now Amanda? Oh, I feel anxiety.
But what if your fear of storms isn't just during flight?
This program is designed to ease panic caused by stormsanything from the sight of thunderclouds to the lack of electricity to being alone during a storm. It was designed after Hurricane Katrina and includes fear of flooding.
They say it's almost a hurricane
Now I'm trapped in the attic as water is rushing into my house.
For some people it's not experiences but social situations that frighten them, like public speaking. Excuse me, my audience awaits.
The software can create a number of different scenariospeople looking bored or talking or even cell phones ringing. How rude, uh, he even gets up and walks away.
All of which is designed to numb me to the worst-case scenarios possible.
Virtual reality treatment is effective for about 92 percent of the patients who seek treatment at the phobia and trauma clinic.
It takes about six to 12 sessions to complete‚ but before patients can be cured they have to face their fears head on, which means taking a flight, riding out a storm or making a speech.
This entry last modified on: January 25, 2013 2:13 PM
About the Video
To overcome a fear of flying or other phobia, a therapist may ask you to slip on special gogglesand slip into the world of virtual reality.