Saturday, November 12, 2005

Video Games and PTSD

For those who are not in the psycho-babble know, PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder is a common psychiatric disorder most associated with war veterans. Essentially, the show description includes flashbacks, nightmares, hyperarousal (edginess), "numbed" feeling, and avoidance of situations which provoke the other symptoms. This is a very debilitating disorder and has been documented at least since the US civil war.

Recently there have been some studies involving video games and PTSD. Not what you may think though: the video games are treatment. According to a large study out of The New England Journal of Medicine July 2004, treating these vets with video games or virtual reality has been proven to be highly effective in reducing symptoms. The scenario involves going through these simulations in uniform with goggles. Those running the program add in the sound of explosions, tanks, and screams in varying levels as the patient tolerates. The scenario is complete with "smells of war" to include smoke and even body odor.

It is easy for me to understand that these guys are made numb to all of the surrounding war background. But, it really is fixing the problem of the symptoms, not the underlying problem. Mixed emotions arise from the scenario, when it's not undoing the problem, but allowing these men and women to get back to a more normal life is a huge gain.

1 comment:

BRATCH said...

It makes sense because video games are very realistic now. It would seem to me that they could "plug-in" to one of these games and if they did have an episode of flare up of PTSD all they would have to do is take the goggles off and stop playing. I'm thinking it would also help them identify certain situations that would cause an episode.

It would seem to me that after playing a game and getting a certain type of reaction, it would get into their minds that "it's just a game." Everyone can get that mindset over something as trivial as a video game.

Now there is a video game for every war we've ever been a part of.