Although the technology is not new, video games may be more effective than opioids in treating PTSD.
According to Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D and Clinical Assistant Professor at Stony Brook University, playing virtual games may be more effective than narcotic drugs in treating pain.
In an article published in Psychology Today, the author interviewed researchers and made the following observations:
In my interview with the Navy’s head of Addiction Research Commander Dr. Andrew Doan, a Johns Hopkins MD and Ph.D. in neuroscience, he stated that he believes that there is indeed an endorphin-increasing mechanism that’s not entirely understood; he embraces the notion of screens acting as “digital pharmakeia” (Greek for pharmaceuticals), a term that he coined to explain the neurobiological effects produced by video technologies.
Brain imaging would eventually confirm that the burn patients treated with Snow World Virtual Reality (VR) were indeed experiencing less pain in the parts of their brain associated with processing pain. (See Figure Below) All of these stunning findings have led the military to further pursue the use of Virtual Reality and video games as a quasi-digital drug in order to help treat pain.
Indeed, the game used to help soldiers cope with burn pain was called Snow World and first used in 2008.
Recent studies indicate that brain scans of patients who used virtual reality programs showed significant improvement in cognitive functions.
With further study, this form of treatment could help curb opioid addiction.Share