Acrophobia means “fear of heights”. It is the most commonly reported as “phobia”. Researchers have found virtual reality exercises can help to overcome a fear of heights. This technology used as an accessible, affordable tool for mental health treatment. In a therapy at Oxford Academics, 5 percent of the population has been diagnosed clinically. It is said that a serious of phobia could overcome through Virtual Reality.
A study recruited 100 volunteers in a six 30-minute sessions with the headsets over two weeks. They had their fear for around on an average of 30 years. 49 of them the virtual reality treatment and the rest of them are for topical treatment. Two were unable to complete the therapy. Because it was too difficult for them to stay for a long time.
The VR-coach asked them to explain what caused their fear? Whether they were worried they would fall or throw themselves off the building? After that, they are entered into the virtual building with a large open atrium in the center. At each of the ten floors performing tasks, standing near the edge. The volunteers are encouraging them to lean over the edge to rescue them to cross a rope bridge. There is a safety barrier moved away. This case faces more challenging problems, such as crossing a bridge. Volunteers had struggled to approach balconies or take escalators for decades. They had their irrational issues banished in a matter of hours, with none input from a person’s expertise.
After the treatment, 34 of the 49 participants (69 percent) were no longer classed as clinically phobic. This is the first trial to show the benefits of VR-therapy. The team from the Oxford University said it could be applied for other mental health conditions and help to address a critical shortage of doctors in this area.
“We need a larger range of skilled therapists, not fewer, however, to satisfy the big demand for mental state treatment. As seen in our clinical trial, we required powerful technological solutions. Virtual Reality treatments have the potential to be effective, and faster and more appealing for many patients than traditional face-to-face therapies. The initial scheme needed months of labor from programmers, actors, and therapists to tune. The equipment is also available cheaply. It can be replicated widely.” said Professor Daniel Freeman, lead author of the study published in The Lancet journal.
Dr. Mark Hayward, of the Sussex University, said the findings were “very promising” for virtual reality. In more serious mental health disorders like psychosis, these treatments still require a professional therapist’s involvement.