AR Therapies for PTSD

Figure 1: (a) Virtual Reality treatment immerses patients into a completely virtual world. (b-d)Augmented Reality treatment overlays virtual images on the real environment, which enables patients to see their body parts and move freely in the real world. (b-d) are examples of combining AR situated storytelling with exposure therapy for PTSD treatment. (b) is an example of treating patients traumatized in war by exposing them to a virtual narration created based on trauma-related objects. (c) is an example of treating patients with childhood abuse-related PTSD through virtual narration generated based on a location that is significant to the patient. (d) shows an example of treating patients traumatized by sexual assault and violence through superimposing the appearance of the abuser onto an actual person.

Figure 1: (a) Virtual Reality treatment immerses patients into a completely virtual world. (b-d)Augmented Reality treatment overlays virtual images on the real environment, which enables patients to see their body parts and move freely in the real world. (b-d) are examples of combining AR situated storytelling with exposure therapy for PTSD treatment. (b) is an example of treating patients traumatized in war by exposing them to a virtual narration created based on trauma-related objects. (c) is an example of treating patients with childhood abuse-related PTSD through virtual narration generated based on a location that is significant to the patient. (d) shows an example of treating patients traumatized by sexual assault and violence through superimposing the appearance of the abuser onto an actual person.

Nightmare is an Augmented Reality (AR) treatment system to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through Situated Storytelling (see Figure 1). PTSD is among the most common mental disorders that is accompanied by multiple physical and mental comorbidities as well as high suicidal ten dencies. Narrative-based Virtual Reality Exposure(VRE) treatment has been shown to be astonishingly useful in treating PTSD. However, the application of this method is limited as it excludes patients who are predisposed to cybersickness or have dissociative symptoms. Besides, the treatment effect only remains at 3-6 months following up. I propose a narrative-based Augmented Reality Exposure(ARE) treatment system with broader applicability and a more persistent efficacy than the previous one as it allows the patients to see the real environment during the treatment and offers better immersion, realism, and involvement for the exposure experience. This project focuses on the development of head-mounted AR technology and the addressing of an urgent social problem, which will be of great research value and significance in the area of extended reality. It will thus help to solidify the dominant position of the City University of Hong Kong in the field of Extended Reality. Moreover, after validating the efficacy of the proposed treatment system through user testing, I propose to gradually democratize the treatment system to the psychiatric associations, counseling centers, and hospitals in Hong Kong to expand its applicability and beneficiaries, which will further enhance the social influence of creative media disciplines.

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Liu Chang
From August 2020