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Virtual Reality

In Elemental. More on Medium.

Recent studies show how it can help a wide variety of patients

Photo: Kohei Hara/Getty Images

Over the last 10 years, two of my very favorite people in the world have had to fight advanced cancer, and I’ve come to learn what pain looks like.

I’m not talking about average pain — slamming your hand in a door, cutting yourself badly, even breaking a bone. The pain I’m referring to is the sort that leaves you pale, gasping, weak, and nearly unable to function. This sort of pain continues without end for days, weeks, months. It is all-consuming.

It’s not just cancer patients who suffer. Burn victims, people with severe back injuries, and soldiers badly hurt…

Researchers are studying how virtual reality can treat everything from PTSD to anorexia to anxiety

Illustration: Alexis Jamet

Researchers are discovering that virtual reality (VR) is more than just a fancy way to play video games. It’s proving useful in therapy.

“What does head-mounted display virtual reality provide people?” says Skip Rizzo, research professor and director for medical virtual reality at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. “It can immerse a person in an environment that can help them to get over their fears or confront their past traumas, all in a controlled stimulus environment.”

Rizzo started studying the potential of VR as a clinical application back in the 1990s when the first wave of…

Virtual reality is the hottest new way to relax

Illustration: Jon Han

The first time Ralonda Dittmar went to Esqapes Immersive Relaxation, a new virtual reality spa, she was so relaxed exploring a beautiful garden, so captivated by the vivid imagery of rippling water and swaying branches, she thought that her 30-minute experience lasted for hours.

Dittmar, 48, had been stressed with work and constant travel, and needed some time for herself. So she drove to a nondescript office building in Los Angeles, chose her virtual world, and settled into a state-of-the-art massage chair for a full-body massage. The experience led her through a series of deep breathing exercises, and then left…

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