Virtual Exposure Therapy
Innovate for Businesses
Stage of Innovation:
We have a working prototype
Ishlok Vashistha, Dipesh Narwat, Himanshu Aggarwal, Aakash Bhadana
Manav Rachna International Institute for Research and Studies, Manav Rachna International Institute for Research and Studies, Delhi Technological University, Manav Rachna International Institute for Research and Studies
Faridabad, Faridabad, Delhi, Faridabad
Not only do 56 million Indians or 4.5 percent of India's population suffer from depression at present, but another 38 million Indians also suffer from anxiety disorders. According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) report on depression, almost 7.5 percent of Indians suffer from major or minor mental disorders or phobias that require expert intervention.
Depression is a psychological and neurological disorder that is associated with the increase in suicidal rates, aggression, violence and a severe decrease in productivity.
The WHO report also revealed that inaccurate assessment is another barrier to effective care.
Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) is a form of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) therapy that combines immersive technology and emotional storytelling and can be a treatment option in today’s digital generation, where VR is growing rapidly. By recreating trauma relevance scenarios, it works as a tool to assist patients to confront and process their stress in a controlled environment. Going back to the memory that has traumatized, the patient allows confronting the stressor and repeating this over time allows a gradual decline in fear response.
Our innovation is divided into two parts a monitoring-based application and a virtual reality-enabled environment.
In the virtual-based environment, the patient is transferred to a virtual
space of many rooms associated with certain phobias and PTSD environment. When a patient enters a certain phobia room (for which he/she has subscribed for), he/she experiences a glimpse of that phobia. Every room has a virtual assistance that guides a patient through the therapy and can be called whenever the patient needs to consult about the therapy. The patient is then assigned certain tasks in level-based session (level ranging from 0 and 20 based on how severe the phobia is or the PTSD situation of the patient). To observe how the patient’s mind and body are reacting to the virtual environment, we have our heart rate and blood pressure measurement device that tracks the rating of the patient throughout the therapy session.
In our application, the patient is given a progress report of the recent therapy session, listing all the necessary details. The patient also gets a note on the therapy session by the assigned consulting doctor. According to the subscribed course plan, the patient is also asked to complete his/her next session by a certain date. If a user has recently signed up to the app and want to figure out if he/she is suffering from any kind phobia or PTSD condition, the app provides the user a free 30-minute review course—first 15 minutes takes a user to different virtual environments and tracks the certain activities of the user with his/her heartbeat and blood pressure, and next 15 minutes, the user fills up a form having some day-to-day action-based questions to depict his/her behavior stats. This data is reviewed and evaluated to track the user psychological condition and the user is suggested course plans to subscribe for. Also, as the patient continues the therapy, he/she is rewarded with movie and shopping vouchers in the app. There is also a community feature in the app, where patients can share their views regarding VRET and can like and comment on posts shared by a VRET user.
As psychological therapy in many countries, even the developed ones, is not affordable and requires trained personnel to assist each patient for long periods, the solution can provide an alternative treatment that is more efficient (faster results) and does not require the help of a psychologist. Making this treatment accessible in many health centers or hospitals can allow faster access to treatment to improve the mental health of patients. The main target is to make this platform available to home and improve the VR platform to recreate different stressful scenarios.
Making available to larger audiences a treatment that allows the patient to immerse into the stressful scenario is a unique way to face the fear stimuli and build resistance to the PTSD effects. Completing sessions of treatment in VR environments will require less frequent consultation with a psychologist and can be moderated by regular medical personnel. This allows a greater number of patients to have frequent therapy sessions that guarantee therapeutic results and it is a more affordable option due to its digital nature.