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. 2012;173:379-85.

STRIVE: Stress Resilience In Virtual Environments: a pre-deployment VR system for training emotional coping skills and assessing chronic and acute stress responses

Affiliations
  • PMID: 22357022

STRIVE: Stress Resilience In Virtual Environments: a pre-deployment VR system for training emotional coping skills and assessing chronic and acute stress responses

Albert Rizzo et al. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2012.

Abstract

The incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in returning OEF/OIF military personnel is creating a significant healthcare challenge. This has served to motivate research on how to better develop and disseminate evidence-based treatments for PTSD. One emerging form of treatment for combat-related PTSD that has shown promise involves the delivery of exposure therapy using immersive Virtual Reality (VR). Initial outcomes from open clinical trials have been positive and fully randomized controlled trials are currently in progress to further validate this approach. Based on our research group's initial positive outcomes using VR to emotionally engage and successfully treat persons undergoing exposure therapy for PTSD, we have begun development in a similar VR-based approach to deliver stress resilience training with military service members prior to their initial deployment. The Stress Resilience In Virtual Environments (STRIVE) project aims to create a set of combat simulations (derived from our existing Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan exposure therapy system) that are part of a multi-episode narrative experience. Users can be immersed within challenging combat contexts and interact with virtual characters within these episodes as part of an experiential learning approach for training a range of psychoeducational and cognitive-behavioral emotional coping strategies believed to enhance stress resilience. The STRIVE project aims to present this approach to service members prior to deployment as part of a program designed to better prepare military personnel for the types of emotional challenges that are inherent in the combat environment. During these virtual training experiences users are monitored physiologically as part of a larger investigation into the biomarkers of the stress response. One such construct, Allostatic Load, is being directly investigated via physiological and neuro-hormonal analysis from specimen collections taken immediately before and after engagement in the STRIVE virtual experience.

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