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Use of Virtual Reality Techniques to Rehabilitate Military Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Review)

Use of Virtual Reality Techniques to Rehabilitate Military Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Review)

Volovik M.G., Belova A.N., Kuznetsov A.N., Polevaia A.V., Vorobyova O.V., Khalak M.E.
Key words: post-traumatic stress disorder; PTSD; military veterans; virtual reality; VR; virtual reality exposure therapy; VRET.
2023, volume 15, issue 1, page 74.

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental and behavioral disorder developing after a traumatic event like participation in combat activities. Objective diagnosis of combat PTSD and effective rehabilitation of war veterans is a current multifaceted problem with particularly high social costs. This review aims to evaluate the potential of virtual reality technique used as exposure therapy tool (VRET) to rehabilitate combat veterans and service members with PTSD.

The review was written following the guidelines of Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). The final analysis includes 75 articles published in 2017–2022.

VRET therapeutic effect mechanisms were examined along with protocols and scenarios of VRET combined with other interventions influencing PTSD treatment like pharmacotherapy, motion-assisted multi-modular memory desensitization and reconsolidation (3MDR), transcranial magnetic stimulation. The necessity is substantiated of psychophysiological measurements for objectification of PTSD clinical criteria and its dynamics during treatment. It was shown that inclusion of VRET to the package of PTSD rehabilitation interventions positively affects the results due to the enhanced effect of presence and greater experience personalization. Thus, VRET may be an effective, controlled, and cost-effective alternative for PTSD treatment in combatants, including those not responding to conventional therapy.

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