War Wounds: Virtual Help For Real Pain

War Wounds: Virtual Help For Real Pain
April 14th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: War Wounds: Virtual Help For Real Pain

War Wounds: Virtual Help For Real Pain
Business Week
April 23, 2007 Developments to Watch

In online communities such as Second Life, people create digital doppelgangers of themselves—avatars who shop, go to conferences, and even procreate. Researchers at the University of Manchester in Britain say the same technology is helping amputees suffering from phantom limb syndrome, a common complaint among soldiers returning from Iraq.
The patient learns to conquer the pain that persists in the location of a lost limb by placing a motion-capture glove or sock on his healthy hand or foot, then manipulating virtual versions of both the existing and missing limbs on a computer screen. It's not clear why this relieves pain, but the technique seems to work, says researcher Steve Pettifer.
At the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., virtual reality will help treat the effects of post traumatic stress disorder, including terrifying flashbacks to the battlefield. The troubled vets don virtual-reality helmets and roam through different battle scenarios, navigating via joysticks. The effect is therapeutic, doctors say, because the simulation reexposes soldiers to the sources of their terror—only this time, in small doses, so they can gradually become desensitized to the memories.
--Aili McConnon

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