Virtual Reality is now solving real world problems

When you think of VR you think gaming, you think simulators at family fun parks – certainly you don’t think medicine, military, or addiction.  That’s all changing.  VR started out as a toy and has moved to being a very real technology that has applications as far ranging as Rehabilitation or “Rehab.”  It may sound crazy, but it actually works!  A company has created an application for Virtual Rehab, the hot new application in VR.  It’s real, and they call it Psychological Rehabilitation For Vulnerable Populations.  The company is called aptly Virtual Rehab.

Virtual Rehab allows you to confront and to overcome your fears while maintaining your complete privacy. The solution is in your hands. #MentalHealthMatters

That’s how simple it is.  What’s really the problem this solves?  The answer is fairly long so we’ll just summarize here.  It solves a number of problems including but not limited to mental disease, depression, alcoholism, Autism (ASD), drug addiction, and more.  And this isn’t any laughing matter, many of these unresolved cases end up in death or worse.  What can be worse than death?  There are many examples, one being mass shootings – an untreated psychopath goes into a WalMart and shoots 20 or 30 people before killing himself.  We don’t have a solid and stable mental health care system in America, so we are relying on innovative companies like Virtual Rehab to come up with solutions.

In the whole world, $136 Billion is spent on Prevention & Treatment, all inclusive of all related disorders.  That’s a huge amount.  Just in the US alone, 13% of Americans take some form of anti-depressants, according to Time.com:

As TIME reported in a recent cover story, clinical depression affects about 16 million people in the U.S. and is estimated to cost the U.S. about $210 billion a year in productivity loss and health care needs. Global revenue for antidepressants is projected to grow to nearly $17 billion by 2020.

The problem is out of control, and few clinical solutions present a real practical solution.  We’re not here to say that VR is the alternative that’s going to wipe out depression.  However, traditional methods clearly do not work.  This is a new type of treatment, and a new type of therapy.  It isn’t going to harm anyone to try it.  If it takes off, we’ve just solved a major health crisis. 
Think about this.  Treatment of any such ailment whether depression or addiction always involves monitoring by a case worker, healthcare professional, or social worker.  Do you really think someone who is addicted wants to be honest about their addiction, to the point that they admit that they can’t shake the addiction?  The reality is that treatment is not easy and involves a bit of hand-holding, there is no ‘magic pill’ to make someone kick a debilitating habit like Alcohol or pain killers.

But how does it work?  Here’s a snapshot from the provided materials:

The program is presenting users with real-life situations (in a virtual world) where they need to make difficult decisions or challenging choices about certain aspects of their lives or their surroundings.  The Virtual Rehab solution is used as a preventative tool from relapsing back into addiction (for example). Using real-life virtual simulation, users are subjected heads-on with their cravings. Leveraging cognitive behavior and exposure therapy, users are presented with stimuli (i.e. cues or triggers), such as an alcohol bottle or a drug syringe or similar stimuli, where a physician, a psychologist, or a therapist, can monitor the patients’ behavior and decision-making accordingly.  Different from one-on-one or group therapy sessions, where a patient may not be comfortable sharing all his/her information since they are afraid of repercussions, the Virtual Rehab solution allows and forces a patient into making certain decisions and confronting their cravings accordingly. Therefore, what may not be realized within a traditional therapy session, can be observed and monitored as part of the virtual simulation.  Using Virtual Rehab’s patented artificial intelligence solution, throughout the virtual simulation, and through the use of certain APIs, the solution gathers data relevant to the decisions being made by the user along with their actions and their reactions to the scenarios they are subjected to. In addition, the solution collects biometrics (heart rate, blood pressure, and biodermal activity) as well as eye-tracking activity, which are leveraged to detect the actual impact that the virtual simulation has on the patient.

So here we can see the real value of the ‘virtual’ approach.  Doctors and being in a hospital environment can be intimidating to begin with.  Patients can react differently in an institutionalized setting vs. the comfort of your own home.  Most patients who suffer from addiction, depression, and related ailments do want to get better, they just don’t know how.  So even if this only helps a marginal number of patients, the impact can be groundbreaking.  And the best part, this is all built on Blockchain technology using artificial intelligence. 

Who knows, perhaps VR treatments can change behavior modification in many unknown ways.  There is something in the US called “Troubled Teen Industry” which at the end of the day is a fraud, perpetrated on desperate parents to help unruly teens.  One NYTimes article notes how the ‘schools’ are run like bad prisons:

Several former students at schools operated by Mr. Robinson, a former amateur boxer, said in interviews — some dating back to the 1990s — that he had physically harmed them while disciplining them, and that they remained psychologically damaged.

No doubt that VR is going to have many applications, but how that impacts the market of “Vulnerable Populations” as they call it, can be profound.  That’s because vulnerable populations are open to be exploited, as in the above case with “Troubled Teens”  - desperate parents will do anything to ‘fix’ their kids even paying $40,000 a year to send them to an abuse camp that only has a few ‘deaths’ on the record, but overall good reviews.

Like any technology, the combination of Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) combined with Blockchain can be a real game changer, we just don’t know which industry will be disrupted most.

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