Long COVID and Self-Management Strategies

New Editorial Alert: “The Path Forward: Self-Management Strategies for Long COVID” is now featured in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking Journal, published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers.

In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, the need to understand and manage Long COVID is more important than ever. This editorial explores the complexities of Long COVID, a condition affecting millions worldwide with a wide range of life-altering symptoms.

#LongCOVID #HealthcareInnovation #Telehealth #DigitalHealth #Cyberpsychology #PublicHealth #VR #DTx



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.

Virtual Reality-Based Therapy Can Help Overcome PTSD and Other Disorders

By Shiva Reddy

Research shows that Virtual Reality-based Graded Exposure Therapy (GET) techniques can improve PTSD symptoms and associated disorders, indicating wider potential applications of Virtual Reality in psychotherapy.

In the recent past, virtual reality has attracted much attention as a potential method for psychotherapy to treat patients with phobiasaddictionsanxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder. Various techniques based on virtual reality—such as virtual reality immersion therapy (VRIT), and virtual reality graded exposure therapy (VR-GET)—have been experimented with and proven to be very effective.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Exposure Therapy

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop when a person goes through one or more traumatic events such as sexual assault, serious injury, narrowly escaping death, domestic violence or watching a fellow soldier die on the battlefield.

People with PTSD typically suffer from disturbing recurring flashbacks, hyperarousal, bad dreams, frightening thoughts, emotional numbness and strong feelings of depression, guilt and worry.

Exposure therapy, a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) technique, is the most widely employed tool to help victims manage PTSD symptoms. By helping patients to confront—rather than avoid—the memory of the traumatic event, exposure therapy techniques support the ability to overcome anxieties and fears.

Using other relaxation techniques, victims slowly gain control over responses to traumatic events and learn to cope in a much better way. Exposure therapy has been found to be very effective in treating PTSD, and has a high success rate in treating patients with specific phobias.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Virtual reality, with its advanced visual immersion devices, specially programmed computers, and three-dimensional artificially created virtual environments, takes exposure therapy to a whole new level—allowing the patient to confront a traumatic experience in a safe and controlled manner.

The most extensive research regarding the applications for VR-based therapy for treating posttraumatic stress disorder was funded by the Office of Naval Research, starting in 2005. This initiative was part of a program to develop new technologies to assist combat veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan in managing PTSD symptoms.

Using new software, hardware, simulations, physiologic monitoring, skills training and therapeutic methods based on Virtual Reality, scientists have experimented with exposing combat veterans to their traumatic experiences in a graded manner.

The advantage of this VR-based Graded Exposure Therapy (VR-GET) is that it helps patients who find it difficult to identify or talk about a traumatic event—which impacts the ability to learn the required skills to cope with a number of anxiety-inducing situations.

In this setting, the combat veteran relives the traumatic episode in a simulation that captures the essential elements of the event—all in a safe and controlled manner—while trying to recognize and manage any excessive autonomic arousal and cognitive reactivity.


For the full article, click here.

The Power of Virtual Reality for Pain and Anxiety



The Pain Practitioner interviewed Professor Dr. Brenda K Wiederhold, Chief Executive Officer of the Interactive Media Institute, a 501c3 non-profit,

and President of the Virtual Reality Medical Center.  Please click on Pain Practitioner link above to read the 3-page interview.


Contact Information:


Email:  frontoffice @ vrphobia.com

Wiederhold’s clinic uses the technology for medical therapy to help patients deal with PTSD, anxiety, phobias (like fear of flying), pain during medical procedures and chronic pain. She predicts more clinics using VR will pop-up in California and across the country within the near future.





Contact Information:

Virtual Reality Medical Center

9834 Genesee Avenue, Suite 427

La Jolla, California USA

frontoffice @ vrphobia.com

Distracting patients at the dentist to lower their fear



Nearly one-quarter of all Americans avoid dentists because they’re afraid, according to American Dental Association surveys. There’s fear of pain, fear of needles, fear of drills, fear of blood, fear of gagging, fear of feeling helpless or having personal space violated, fear of being lectured for not brushing or flossing adequately and fear of being admonished for staying away so long…

Minimizing pain, maximizing distractions. 

Dentists are trying to find new ways to calm their patients. Some practices let patients virtually sleep through the procedure. Others focus on minimizing pain as well as the typical sounds and smells of dentistry that can trigger unpleasant memories, while maximizing soothing distractions.

Behavioral psychotherapists can teach ways to overcome anxiety. Some people find that hypnosis helps them relax, and some hypnotherapists can provide sessions by phone before dental visits.

Some dentists also boast spa-like comforts, such as massaging chairs, warm neck rolls, paraffin wax treatments for hands and reflexology, the traditional Chinese foot massage.

Taking a cue from pediatric practices, some dentists offer an array of entertainment options to keep patients’ minds off the drilling and filling. Various psychological techniques, including distraction by virtual reality environments and the playing of video games, are now employed to treat pain. In virtual reality environments, an image is provided for the patient in a realistic, immersive manner devoid of distractions. This technology allows users to interact at many levels with the virtual environment, using many of their senses, and encourages them to become immersed in the virtual world they are experiencing. When immersion is high, much of the user’s attention is focused on the virtual environment, leaving little attention left to focus on other things, such as pain. In this way virtual reality provides an effective medium for reproducing and/or enhancing the distractive qualities of guided imagery for the majority of the population who cannot visualize successfully.

What can patients do themselves to alleviate their anxiety? 

Bring your own distractions—a riveting book, a music player full of transporting tunes or favorite movies if your dentist is equipped to play them.

Tell the dentist and the staff about your fears. And shop around until you find a practice that is empathetic.

In the meantime, take very good care of your teeth and gums. The healthier they are, the more pleasant every dental visit will be.

To thus who want to go farther on the subject, we published a paper called Virtual reality and interactive simulation for pain distraction in the Cyber Therapy issue of 2010

This article is based on Melinda Beck’s, More dentists talking pains to win back fearful patients.



By Sarah C.P. Williams

An excerpt from the article:

Where avatar-based virtual realities are already being put to use is in psychiatric clinics that specialize in the treatment of phobias and anxieties. They use virtual realities to expose people to their fears in a safe manner. Scared of flying? Spend increasing amounts of time on a virtual plane to teach your brain to stay calm in the air.

Deathly afraid of spiders? A virtual room with some small creepy-crawlies might slowly help you become less terrified.

At the Virtual Reality Medical Center in San Diego, these kinds of therapies aren’t just theoretical; they’re carried out on patients every day. Executive director Brenda Wiederhold, also a researcher at UC San Diego, says she’s been using the technology on patients since the mid-1990s. Before that, clinicians working to calm phobias could either ask patients to visualize their fear, or use the real thing. Both have drawbacks, as only about 15 percent of the population is any good at imagining, Wiederhold says. But the virtual realities are incredibly effective.

“Our brain really doesn’t know the difference between reality and a virtual reality in a lot of cases,” she says. “If I expose you to a spider in a virtual setting, your limbic system will light up just as if you see a spider in real life.”

And once again, the participant isn’t always aware of the effect, or even what’s real or not. After experiencing a virtual airplane, Wiederhold says, she’s had patients comment that the smell of coffee as the flight attendant came down the aisle really helped immerse them in the scenario. Only there was no smell of coffee.

For full article, click here.