Adam Bloomer – Immersive VR Theraphy
For almost twenty years now, there’s been a growing trend in research and clinical trials which points to the viability and potential of Virtual Reality’s use in therapeutic applications. Many in the field predict that VR will eventually play a central part in assessing and treating mental health conditions. Immersive VR therapy is a form of virtual environment content delivery system that utilizes currently available mental health treatments, particularly that for ‘generalised anxiety disorder’, to be provided to patients via a VR headset.
Adam Bloomer, an MA Moving Image student, looks to the gap in lightweight and practical VR devices in anticipation of what will be soon be the next wave of mental health therapy solutions. Bloomer has been experimenting with existing virtual reality technology and therapy techniques to develop applications whereby patients can use a therapeutic passive viewing experience through the use of convenient and comfortable virtual reality headsets.
Although technology already facilitates a huge range of support for people affected by anxiety (Smartphone apps that help users regulate their breathing when faced with a panic attack, for example, or those which connect users to therapists in real time), current devices do not yet support a shift towards Immersive VR Therapy.
Bloomer envisages this new treatment for anxiety care as one which could work in tandem with current trends in media delivery and devices to formulate innovative patient-centered alternative therapies. He explains that “This is an exciting opportunity to minimise reliance on pharmacological treatment for mental health. Advances in VR technology allow us to enter a world that is authentic enough to trigger the mind and body to behave as if it’s the real world.
The application of this new technology in the field of mental health treatment has introduced new alternatives and a platform for content delivery to treat the symptoms of general anxiety using current N.I.C.E recommended treatment pathways. The implications of this could be truly life-changing”.