Clinical Psychologist Discusses Pioneering Innovation in Virtual Reality Therapy for New Museum Exhibition

May 16, 2012, Silver Spring, Md.: Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCIA, executive vice president of the Virtual Reality Medical Center, recently shared stories of using virtual reality technology to treat soldiers suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, for a new multimedia exhibit installation at the National Museum of Health and Medicine.

In a video interview, Wiederhold explained that her organization was originally using virtual reality computer simulation technology to treat patients with phobias, panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder from being involved in motor vehicle accidents. However when soldiers began being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, the technology was adapted to not only treat soldiers coming back from the battlefields, but also to prepare troops getting ready to go into
battle.

 

To see the full article, click here.

Belgian Economic Mission to the United States

Brussels, Belgium (June 11, 2013) — The Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC) was selected to participate in the recent Belgian Economic Mission to the United States, organized by the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency in collaboration with the regional institutions Wallonia Foreign Trade & Investment Agency, Brussels Invest & Export, and Flanders Investment & Trade and FPS Foreign Affairs. The event, held from June 2 to June 9, 2013, was presided over by the Prince Philippe of Belgium, and consisted of 393 participants, bring together companies from various business sectors to expand their influence to the U.S. and promote trade between Belgium and the U.S.

Virtual Reality Medical Center uses simulation technologies in three main areas: 1) treating patients with stress, anxiety, and trauma, 2) training for military medical and civilian populations, and 3) enhancing medical educational programs. A Belgian corporation established in December 2006 with affiliates in the U.S. and China, VRMC principals are world leaders in applying VR technology in combination with physiological monitoring and feedback fro training, therapy, and emerging applications. We are also focused on developing a comprehensive protocol to address an array of needs for military personnel and civilian first responders as well as emerging technologies for various security and intelligence operations. Having been involved in R&D projects in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. for the past 25 years, we have won over 50 competitive government contracts and look now towards marketing the developed products and protocols.

Representing VRMC on the mission were Prof. Dr. Brenda Wiederhold, President, and Prof. Dr. Mark Wiederhold, Director of Clinical Research.

Selected as Best National Digital Solution for the International Award in Health and Well-Being

HACK THE GAPS – DIGITAL SOLUTIONS FOR THE UN SDGS: THE WSA NOMINEES OF 2020

Milan/San Diego/Salzburg

2 November 2020

Professor Giuseppe Riva, Professor Brenda K Wiederhold and Dr. Luca Bernardelli are pleased to announce that COVID Feel Good HAS BEEN SELECTED AS BEST NATIONAL DIGITAL SOLUTION FOR THE INTERNATIONAL AWARD IN THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING CATEGORY.

Smart content combined with optimized utilization of state-of-the-art technology offers immense opportunities to close global and local divides and the achievement of the UN SDGs. COVID Feel Good was nominated as best national digital solution for Italy for the international WSA Award, selecting digital innovations with a positive impact on society.  With this nomination in the Category Health and Well-being, COVID Feel Good qualifies for evaluation by the WSA Online Jury 2020 among over 340 international nominations – showcasing the global dimension of digital innovation, from Canada to Indonesia, from Finland to Mozambique.

The WSA nominees 2020 show the richness, diversity, future, and innovation of digital solutions on a global scale and prove how digital technology can improve society on each corner of the world.

COVID Feel Good has been selected as best national digital solution for Italy for the international WSA.  But it reaches beyond the borders of Italy and has become a truly international effort, with over 10 countries now participating in this Positive Technology initiative.

Living in the time of the coronavirus means experiencing not only a global health emergency but also extreme psychological stress that puts a strain on our identity and our relationships.

COVID Feel Good is a weekly social self-help protocol based on a virtual reality experience, requiring just twenty minutes daily, helping you in relieving anxiety and stress and improving well-being and social connectedness.

https://www.covidfeelgood.com/home 

It is FREE and it requires just TWENTY MINUTES everyday for a week.

VR Video, Protocol and Instructions in English, Español, Français, Português do Brasil, Italiano, 한국인, 日本語, Deutsche, Català and Türkçe are available below.

Please help us in spreading this protocol by posting in your social accounts our videos (in English, Spanish, French, Brasilian/Portoguese, Italian, and Catalan)

The WSA 2020 nominees will be evaluated based on seven fundamentals criteria: Content, Functionality, Design, Technology, Innovation, Impact and Value.

WSA combines two major perspectives in its initiative – first the commitment of the UN SDGs, and how to use ICTs for development.  And second the development of a global knowledge society. The UN SDGs must be our measurement – in terms of what to look at and where to look. Today we are living in a completely different environment – through the mobile revolution, through the emergence of the algorithmic age – data has become capital just as much as labour, land, money and machinery. Hence, it is more important than ever to fully evaluate what excellent content is and what it really offers in terms of solutions and impact. Qualitative, local content has become the key and permanent issue. WSA presents innovation that uses ICT for social connectivity. To connect for impact.“ WSA Chairman Peter A. Bruck states.

The WSA nominees are selected carefully and highly competitively by the WSA National Experts from more than 184 UN member states. The WSA National Experts nominate up to eight projects for each country – one for every WSA category.

A nomination to the WSA hence is already an award in itself – the qualification to compete and compare on an international level and being the best practice in Health and Well-being nationally.

About the WSA

The WSA is a global initiative within the framework of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). WSA is the only ICT event worldwide that reaches the digital driven social impact community in over 180 countries. WSA highlights digital content that is improving society and focuses on local content with global relevance.

Visit us on www.wsa-global.org, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, #WSA20

Media Contact WSA:

Manuela Wagner

WSA Global Community Manager
manuela@wsa-global.org

+43.660.630408.7

 

Help us to help bring healing to people around the globe:

 Professor Giuseppe Riva

Scientific Coordination

Catholic University of Sacred Heart

Istituto Auxologico Italiano

Milan, Italy

 

Professor Brenda K. Wiederhold

Clinical Coordination

Virtual Reality Medical Center

Interactive Media Institute, a 501c3 non-profit

Licensed Clinical Psychologist in U.S. and Belgium

 

Dr. Luca Bernardelli

VR Development Coordination

CEO, Become-Hub

Milan, Italy

 

 

 

Management of Psychological Stress in Nurses and Teachers

The recent convergence between technology and medicine is offering innovative methods and tools for behavioral health care. Among these, an emerging approach is the use of virtual reality (VR) within exposure-based protocols for anxiety disorders, and in particular posttraumatic stress disorder. In a randomised controlled clinical trial funded by the European Commission, our team was able to show that Virtual Reality enhanced treatment is able to significantly reduce stress, while increasing coping skills.

interstress-rct

Staying Healthy and Safe Going Back to School with COVID

Going back to school can be as stressful for your kids as it is for you. But you can help make things easier by helping your children be ready well in advance of the first day of class. Being informed is the first step in staying healthy and safe going back to school. Learn all you can about the best way to keep your kids safe from the virus as well as other illnesses.

Some of the most obvious tips that we have been hearing over and over again on the news are actually some of the best ways to stay safe. Washing your hands often, using hand sanitizer, staying at least six feet away from everyone, keeping your hands away from your face, and wearing the proper face covering are the top five tips from the CDC.

It is also important to make sure your kids are mentally healthy. Kids can be just as stressed out as we are, and they just do not show it in the same way. Many times, they will not even tell you what they are feeling. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), every year, about one in five American children suffer from some type of behavioral, emotional, or mental illness. Even if your child seems happy and healthy, supporting their mental health as much as their physical health can stave off problems they may have later.

If you notice your child seems more withdrawn than usual, is not interested in their typical activities, or just seem to be more anxious or depressed, talk to them. Ask them what is going on. And if you think your child has a problem, you may want to try virtual reality therapy. At the Virtual Reality Medical Center in San Diego, Dr. Brenda Wiederhold is available to treat any type of anxiety and various other mental health issues.

 

The Power of VR for acute and chronic pain

 

The Pain Practitioner interviewed Dr. Brenda K Wiederhold, CEO of Interactive Media Institute, a 501c3

and President of the Virtual Reality Medical Center, a California Medical Corporation.

VRMC develops VR environments, conducts clinical research studies using VR, AR, medical devices,

biosensors and pharmaceuticals in conjunction with traditional behavioral healthcare and provides patient

services at its private clinic on the Scripps Memorial Hospital Campus in La Jolla, California.

 

Pain Practitioner Interview

What You Can do to Reduce Your Anxiety About COVID-19

 

What You Can do to Reduce Your Anxiety About COVID-19

 

Since everyone reacts differently to situations like COVID-19, it is important to be prepared to handle any type of anxiety or fear you may be feeling at this time. When things in your life become so uncertain and you don’t know what is going to happen, you may begin to panic or have severe anxiety. And one of the worst things about this crisis is that most of the world is on lockdown so we cannot just go to a friend’s house, to the gym, or whatever else you typically do to deal with your stress.

However, that does not mean that you cannot do something to deal with your emotions. First of all, you don’t have to go to the gym to work out. Even if you don’t have any kind of exercise equipment at home. One of the best ways to exercise is to walk. Yes, you can go outside for a walk. Just stay at least six feet away from anyone you happen to see. Another way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors is gardening or yard work. Since the weather is getting warmer, go ahead and start getting your garden ready or just walk around the yard and pick up sticks, rocks, and other debris that may have made its way into your yard during the winter.

Don’t forget to talk to people. Just because you are quarantined does not mean you cannot communicate with your loved ones. Use Facetime, videochat, text, or just talk on the phone to friends, family, or anyone. Not only will you feel better, you will make the other person happy as well. Loneliness is real. Do not isolate yourself so much that you are not talking to anyone at all. Another way to help your anxiety is to use virtual reality therapy. Whether that means connecting with a therapist on telementalhealth or coming into a clinic, like the Virtual Reality Medical Center in La Jolla, Dr. Brenda Wiederhold is available to treat any type of anxiety management.

 

Talking to Your Kids About COVID-19

 

Your kids may not seem like they are anxious about this COVID-19 crisis, but they probably have a lot of questions about what is going on. For example, they are probably wondering why they have to stay home from school. Although many kids like this vacation from their daily routine, most are probably getting anxious about what is going on. The younger ones that are not in school yet may even be wondering why their siblings are home and why they cannot go see their friends or go to the park.

Do not just tell them not to worry about it and try to shield them from the COVID-19 issues. Because we all know that you cannot stop someone from worrying by telling them not to worry. In fact, in many cases, it will make them worry more. Listen to your child’s questions and answer them as best as you can. If you do not know the answer to their question, go on trusted sites like the CDC and look for the answers and ways to help your children cope. Without overwhelming your child with too much information, go ahead and let them know what is going on because what is going on in their imagination may be much worse than the truth.

If your child is really having a hard time dealing with things, it is important to get them some professional help. Although most mental health providers are not taking appointments right now because of the quarantine, you can always find online counseling. Most online counseling can be done without ever having to go to the office and can all be done from home. In addition, talk to Dr. Brenda Wiederhold from the Virtual Reality Medical Center about her options to help during this COVID-19 lockdown.

 

Taking the Anxiety Out of COVID-19 for Those with Pre-Existing Anxiety

 

During these troubling times, it is difficult for anyone to deal with their anxiety and stress. Those with pre-existing anxiety disorders can really have a tough time with the COVID-19 crisis. But there are things you can do to help yourself or others who may not be handling the situation well.

First of all, turn off the news. Watching too much coverage about COVID-19 can make anyone anxious. While it is good to be informed, it is more important to take a break from the constant worry and think about other things for a while. Your mental health needs a break sometimes.

Talk to someone if you feel like you are becoming overwhelmed. Even if you already have a therapist, they may not be available to you right now. Many mental health providers are not taking appointments right now except for virtual visits or online counseling. If your therapist does not offer this kind of help, contact one that does.

There are many out there and you don’t even need an appointment for most of them. Then you can talk to them by text, phone, chat, or videochat.   Many health plans are also relaxing their payment schedules for virtual visits during this time of “shelter in place”.

Another example would be to use virtual reality therapy. This type of therapy involves using virtual reality to expose you to your fears gradually. It works extremely well with anxiety disorders and phobias. Dr. Brenda Wiederhold of the Virtual Reality Medical Center offers treatment for all types of anxiety, phobias, and pain management.  In addition, there are  relaxation apps that one can find on the app store such as Calm, Headspace and Kardia that may help get you through these difficult times.  Remember, now more than ever, we must be mindful of our mental well-being.

Fear of Flying

“Last September, my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and flew from California to Vermont. This was the first time I had flown in years.”

Like many people with aviophobia, Gaustad hadn’t always been afraid of flying. “We actually flew quite a bit. But on a flight to Las Vegas, our plane hit a few air pockets… enough turbulence to throw things around a bit… and although everything turned out okay, I got real real panicky and said, ‘I’m not going to be able to do this again.'” Sure enough, Gaustad and her family traveled by car, bus or train throughout the next decade.

Knowing the anniversary trip was coming up, Gaustad decided to do something about her phobia and learned that virtual reality therapy was available through her company’s employee benefits. “I only met with Brenda seven or eight times before the therapy worked on me,” she recalls. “In fact, before the sessions were completely over, I had already booked our flights to Vermont.”

“Yes I did feel sort of weird when I wasn’t flying, like there was someting wrong with me,” Gaustad admits. “It was important that my husband understood my problem. Be patient and work through this together.”

Virtual Reality for the Attenuation of Pain and Anxiety

The Virtual Reality Medical Center and nonprofit affiliate, Interactive Media Institute, recently published the article, “Using Virtual Reality to Mobilize Health Care: Mobile Virtual Reality Technology for Attenuation of Anxiety and Pain” in the January Issue of IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine. The article summarizes the use of virtual reality as a tool for pain distraction and stress reduction in patients. This tool has been used to treat phobias, stress disorders, distract from surgical pain, and help overcome chronic pain. As a mobile healthcare platform, virtual reality and related technologies are changing the face of healthcare services by increasing access, efficiency, and effectiveness.

For the full text, please visit: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8197481/

Please direct any questions regarding this article to Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold at frontoffice@vrphobia.com

 

 

Wiederhold BK, Miller IT, Wiederhold MD. Using Virtual Reality to Mobilize Health Care: Mobile Virtual Reality Technology for Attenuation of Anxiety and Pain. IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine. 2018 Jan;7(1):106-9.

Fear of Flying

“It started when the plane took off.”

Keely Moore isn’t afraid of a plane crash. It’s the airplane cabin closing in on her.

“I just felt kind of trapped.”

Keely suffers from panic attacks—intense unexpected episodes of fear. The attacks trigger severe physical reactions including, racing heart, chest pains, and dizziness. The attack strike terror in Keely’s mind.

“You know the fear of dying, not knowing what’s going on”

The real world situation is too overwhelming for a lot of people.

So in virtual reality, we can put them in near real-world situations, have them experience that fear, teach them coping mechanisms, also teach them that those feelings aren’t dangerous.

Keely’s nine flights virtual flights have paid off. “It just feels more like excitement than anxiety.”

 

For more information on Keely’s story click here.

Fear of Birds

I had a normal childhood. One of my favorite places in our hometown was our bird farm, where I thought it was very cool to go hang out with birds and touch them. I cannot imagine this anymore.

All of this was until I had a very bad experience one day. I was nine. We were in this park and someone dumped a bag of birdseed in front of me. All of a sudden there I was engulfed in a cloud of sparrows. I couldn’t see anything except brown-white feathers everywhere. And I couldn’t hear anything except for chirping, frantic wing flapping.

I started to feel like I couldn’t breathe. To me this felt like it went on for tens of minutes, even though talking to Brenda, I realized it must have actually been a couple of seconds.

I was really shaken. My parents were like, “Oh, poor baby, let’s go and take her out for some ice cream.” And we did. They sat me down and put some ice cream in front of me. And, a very bold pigeon landed in my plate and started flapping around. There were feathers everywhere and the sound that terrified me a couple of seconds ago was back.

I think that was what cemented the connection between birds and danger in my mind. I think I’ve had this phobia ever since.

How it affected Neha’s daily life

When we walk around Palo Alto, we have to take a special route to avoid houses with any chicken coops.

Neha’s Boyfriend

When we walk around in the city, and you see a bird on the sidewalk, you squeeze my hand really tightly and cry.

Neha’s Sister

That time you ran out of the kitchen, screaming and sweating and crying, and it was because there was a feather on the floor.

Neha’s Mom

The Next Steps

My mother sent out an email to all of her doctor friends saying, “My daughter runs into traffic to escape pigeons. Can anyone help us?” The answer we got was VR therapy.

I thought, “That sounds made up, and kinda like sci-fi.”

————————————————————————————————————

I can deal with a penguin maybe, a video of a penguin

Neha

Even as a part of the process, there was an option to stop. So I never felt like, “Oh my God, I can’t take it anymore.” It was always under control. It was never something that I felt like I had to get out of immediately.

My goal was to not have bird phobia interrupt my daily life. I wanted to walk within 10 feet of a bird.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I definitely still pay attention to birds. “Oh there’s a bird near me, I’m going to start my breathing exercises.” But, I can function like normal.

For more information on Neha’s story, click here.