Virtual Reality software to help treat PTSD
Downingtown, PA (PRWEB) September 24, 2014
From first-hand experience, Matthew O'Farrell knows all about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – and how it can be treated.
A medically retired Army veteran, O’Farrell, 31, was deployed in Iraq in 2006. His platoon sustained multiple attacks resulting in five casualties. After returning home in 2008, he was diagnosed with combat-related PTSD and honorably discharged from the Army.
“I was withdrawn, I was angry, and I had distanced myself from my friends and family,” recalled O’Farrell, who lives in Downingtown, Pa. “I had unbelievable anxiety and started exhibiting some very dangerous behaviors and reactions to situations.”
Sgt. O’Farrell underwent long-term intensive therapy and was able to reclaim his life, but others aren’t as fortunate.
“Intensive treatments and alternative therapy, such as my service dog, allow me to enjoy my life today. But I represent a small percentage of vets,” said O’Farrell. “PTSD prevents these men from having any normal quality of life.”
O’Farrell is now dedicating his life to helping other veterans suffering with PTSD. He started his own company, VipR, which is developing a cost-effective version of virtual exposure therapy. Through VIPER-T (virtual immersion prolonged exposure rehabilitation therapy), PTSD patients are reintroduced to their traumatic events slowly in a controlled therapeutic environment.
“This process helps veterans come to closure with the events they have experienced and can reveal previously unprocessed repressed memories,” explained O’Farrell. “By viewing a simulation on a head-mounted display, with the help of a therapist, the veteran is introduced slowly to stimuli similar to the events they experienced overseas. This treatment is paired with traditional therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, while allowing the doctor to maintain control of the simulation.”
Numerous clinical studies have proven VR treatment for PTSD to be effective - but the current cost of equipment, the amount of additional research needed and the lack of established treatment plans prevent this from being rolled out across the country.
“We need to put this into therapists’ hands as soon as we can,” said O’Farrell, who is seeking $100,000 in funding to move the project forward.
The money will be used for software development, conducting clinical studies and purchasing hardware to loan to universities for research.
In order to raise this capital, he has launched an Indiegogo campaign, which can be viewed at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/vipr-vr-treatment-for-veterans-with-ptsd. A video on the page demonstrates how VR Exposure Therapy works.
Donations of any amount are welcome. For $75, backers receive a company listing on the VipR website (http://www.viprvr.com). For $200 contributors are also rewarded with a 8x11 photo of ‘Gunner the Dog’ with his signature paw print. A $250 pledge is rewarded with a VipR T-shirt and access to demo software.
“We owe this to our veterans,” O’Farrell said. “The more research we put into this, the more effective we can make it.”
For additional information, visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/vipr-vr-treatment-for-veterans-with-ptsd; the VipR website, http://www.viprvr.com; or the VipR Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/viprtech.
O’Farrell can be reached directly at ofarrellmatthew(at)gmail.com.