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The development of virtual reality therapy (VRT) system for the treatment of acrophobia and therapeutic case

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7 Author(s)
D. P. Jang ; Dept. of Biomed. Eng., Hanyang Univ., Seoul, South Korea ; J. H. Ku ; Y. H. Choi ; B. K. Wiederhold
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Virtual reality therapy (VRT), based on this sophisticated technology, has been used in the treatment of subjects diagnosed with acrophobia, a disorder that is characterized by marked anxiety upon exposure to heights and avoidance of heights. Conventional VR systems for the treatment of acrophobia have limitations, over-costly devices or somewhat unrealistic graphic scenes. The goal of this study was to develop an inexpensive and more realistic virtual environment (VE) in which to perform exposure therapy for acrophobia. It is based on a personal computer, and a virtual scene of a bunge-jump tower in the middle of a large city. The virtual scenario includes an open lift surrounded by props beside a tower, which allows the patient to feel a sense of heights. The effectiveness of the VE was evaluated through the clinical treatment of a subject who was suffering from the fear of heights. As a result, it was proved that this VR environment was effective and realistic at overcoming acrophobia according not only to the comparison results of a variety of questionnaires before and after treatment but also to the subject's comments that the VE seemed to evoke more fearful feelings than the real situation.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine  (Volume:6 ,  Issue: 3 )