Virtual Reality in the Treatment of Mental Health Disorders

The goal of a new review was to determine the therapeutic potential of VR in mental health disorders. By analyzing data from 285 studies, which studied the role of VR in anxiety (n = 192), schizophrenia (n = 44), substance-related disorders (n = 22) and eating disorders, found that VR provides benefit in anxiety disorders. However, evidence was generally weak, and the term VR was often misused in these studies, with few studies using truly immersive, interactive paradigms. “VR has the potential to transform the assessment, understanding and treatment of mental health problems,” the authors conclude.

Freeman D, Reeve S, Robinson A, et al. Virtual reality in the assessment, understanding, and treatment of mental health disorders. Psychol Med. 2017:1-8.

Applications of Virtual Reality GIS in Personal, Public and Environmental Health

From VR Medicine News-A new review of virtual and augmented reality geospatial information software (GIS) offers a look into recent advances in tackling public and environmental health problems. The use of this technology has improved user experiences from urban planning and emergency training to immersive games such as Pokémon Go. The review also discusses important technical features and issues underlying these solutions.

Kamel Boulos MN, Lu Z, Guerrero P, Jennett C, Steed A. From urban planning and emergency training to Pokémon Go: applications of virtual reality GIS (VRGIS) and augmented reality GIS (ARGIS) in personal, public and environmental health. Int J Health Geogr. 2017;16:1-11.

Virtual Reality and Phantom Limb Pain

From VR Medicine News–A recent review article aimed to synthesize the current research on the treatment of phantom limb pain (PLP) using immersive VR and AR. The review analyzed 8 studies, and found improvement of pain with VR and AR treatment for PLP. Simulator sickness was the only adverse effect observed, and occurred only in one trial for one patient. However, due to the low quality of evidence in the studies reviewed, “the current use of VR and AR for PLP management, while attractive due to the increasing levels of immersion, customizable environments, and decreasing cost, is yet to be fully proven,” the authors note.

Dunn J, Yeo E, Moghaddampour P, Chau B, Humbert S. Virtual and augmented reality in the treatment of phantom limb pain: A literature review. NeuroRehabilitation. 2017.

Applications of AR and VR in Neurosurgery

From VR Medicine News–Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles have reviewed the status of AR and VR in neurosurgery practice. They also discuss emerging applications of this technology in this field.

Pelargos PE, Nagasawa DT, Lagman C, et al. Utilizing virtual and augmented reality for educational and clinical enhancements in neurosurgery. J Clin Neurosci. 2017 Jan;35:1-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2016.09.002.

Article Reviews the Role of AR in Laparoscopy

Here are the highlights according to the authors:

  • We review the state of the art about laparoscopic augmented reality with 270+ recent references.
  • We highlight that most methods consist in a static registration followed by augmentation updates.
  • We propose a clear classification of all methods and weigh pros and cons for each of them.
  • This survey is comprehensive and self-contained thanks to various backgrounds on related topics.

Bernhardt S, Nicolau SA, Soler L, Doignon C. The status of augmented reality in laparoscopic surgery as of 2016. Med Image Anal. 2017 Jan 24;37:66-90. doi: 10.1016/

VR in Mental Health — A Review Article.

A free full text article in Frontiers in Psychiatry reviews serious games and gamification as they apply to mental health. The authors discuss 6 major categories: exergames, virtual reality, cognitive behavior therapy-based games, entertainment games, biofeedback, and cognitive training games.

Fleming TM, Bavin L, Stasiak K, et al. Serious Games and Gamification for Mental Health: Current Status and Promising Directions. Front Psychiatry. 2017 Jan 10;7:215. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00215.


VR Shows Promise in Cerebral Palsy

From VR Medicine News–Researchers in India conducted a review of studies of VR rehabilitation and its efficacy in the sensory and functional motor skills of children and adolescents with cerebral palsy. The review, published in Physiotherapy, included 31 studies and 369 participants. The authors found “moderate evidence that virtual reality rehabilitation is a promising intervention to improve balance and motor skills in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy.

Ravi DK, Kumar N, Singhi P. Effectiveness of virtual reality rehabilitation for children and adolescents with cerebral palsy: an updated evidence-based systematic review. Physiotherapy. 2016 Sep 27. pii: S0031-9406(16)30064-5. doi: 10.1016/

Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Therapy, and VR

From VR Medicine News–A review article published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology describes interventions for restoring motor function in multiple sclerosis In addition to virtual reality training, these technologies include robotics and constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT). Another promising strategy for enhancing neuroplastic changes is non-invasive brain stimulation that can be used with a priming effect on motor training, the researchers note. The article summarizes the technologies and interventions that have been evaluated in clinical trials to date.

Straudi S, Basaglia N. Neuroplasticity-Based Technologies and Interventions for Restoring Motor Functions in Multiple Sclerosis. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017;958:171-185. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-47861-6_11.

Big Data Can Help VR Get it Right

A new article in Diagnostic Imaging describes the intersection of big data (BD) and interactive virtual reality (IVR), and “provides a significant opportunity for achieving improvements in patient outcomes” notes the author Ronald Schilling, PhD. He adds that “We might think of IVR as focused on “doing the right things” and BD as focused on “doing things right’.”