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Technology Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

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  • Nov 21, 2023

Technology Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy – Using a digital therapeutic environment displayed in data glasses, exposure therapy is transferred to virtual reality. Credits: Fraunhofer IBMT, Bernd Müller

Arachnophobia is the technical term for the fear of spiders. Around 3.5 to 6.1 percent of the population suffers from this phobia. Exposure therapy is the most common form of treatment. However, 60 to 80 percent of arachnophobes do not receive any therapy due to lack of services. Others simply can’t stand the terror of facing real spiders. Together with partners, Fraunhofer researchers are developing a digital therapy system designed to facilitate treatment at home and offer patients a better sense of security. A demonstrator of the system will be presented at the MEDICA exhibition in Düsseldorf from November 12 to 15 (hall 10, stand G05/H04).

Technology Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Technology Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

In Germany, no wild spiders pose a threat to humans. But that doesn’t stop many people from panicking when they see one. Their bodies respond with heart palpitations, chills, dizziness, sweating, and shortness of breath. Sometimes the psychological stress is so great, the fear so overwhelming, that people suffering from a phobia must seek therapy. Behavioral therapy approaches have been shown to be most effective in treating arachnophobia. Exposure therapy, which involves confronting patients with one or more real spiders, is considered particularly effective. However, people suffering from phobia often do not use such treatments, either because exposure to these eight-legged creatures is too terrifying a prospect or due to the lack of treatment options available where they live.

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As part of the “DigiPhobie” project, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT are working together with Promotion Software GmbH, Saarland University and Saarland University Medical Center to address these problems. . They are developing a new type of digital therapy system designed to enable exposure therapy in a home environment. It is based on the idea that by confronting the feared object in virtual or augmented reality, patients will more easily face their fears and will no longer be intimidated by the prospect of starting treatment. The system includes a digital therapy environment, wearable sensors and augmented reality (AR) glasses to be precise. Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

“We have transferred real exposure therapy to the digital game system that runs on the data glasses. All therapy tasks are digitally simulated. The person suffering from the phobia can complete various challenges, such as catching a spider with a glass and a postcard or walking on one with your finger – in virtual reality,” says Fraunhofer IBMT scientist Dr. Frank Ihmig, describing the treatment approach. Ihmig and his team create the therapy management software and biofeedback monitoring system, consisting of wearable sensors that measure the patient’s vital parameters during a session, such as heart rate variability, skin conductance and respiratory rate.

From the measured parameters, it is possible to extract characteristics indicating emotional stress. Using these stress characteristics, researchers train a machine learning algorithm. “Through the learning algorithm, we derive the iological fear response of the patient and thus try to determine the intensity of their fear. Together with the subjective perception of the arachnophobe, this provides an objective measure of their fear response “This measurement calculates feedback. No digital therapy game, creating a closed-loop system. In this way, we can adapt the therapy to the patient’s personal needs,” explains Ihmig. Game elements such as the size, number and distance of the spiders, as well as the movement behavior of the arachnids, can be dynamically adjusted.

Fraunhofer researchers use adhesive electrodes to measure ECG and skin conductivity. Breathing is monitored using a chest strap with piezoelectric sensors. The measured signals are transmitted wirelessly via Bluetooth to the therapy management software. All data on sessions and the course of therapy are archived in the database and are available to therapists and clinical researchers for analysis. Efficacy to be determined in a clinical study

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A validation study will begin in spring 2019 to evaluate the effectiveness of digital therapy. Similar approaches using virtual reality (VR) glasses have shown that good results can be achieved with this form of therapy. The results of the analyzes should lay the foundation for further treatment concepts. It is conceivable, for example, that the therapy could be applied to other phobias such as fear of snakes or cockroaches. “We hope that the results of the clinical study will open new perspectives for the treatment of patients suffering from specific phobias,” says Ihmig.

In addition, the results form the basis for the development of a kit containing the complete therapeutic suite. “The long-term goal for patients is to be able to borrow the kit from their doctor, pharmacy or medical supply store and do individual sessions and exercises at home,” says Ihmig. The researcher and his team will present the biofeedback system at the joint Fraunhofer stand (hall 10, stand G05/H04) at the MEDICA trade fair in Düsseldorf from November 12 to 15.

Quote: Treating Fear of Spiders with Augmented Reality (October 29, 2018) Retrieved November 20, 2023 from https:///news/2018-10-spiders-augmented-reality.html

Technology Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

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Can brain-computer interfaces replace virtual reality controllers? A machine learning motion prediction model during a virtual reality simulation using EEG recordings

By Jacob Kritikos Jacob Kritikos Scilit Google Scholar View publications 1, * , Alexandros Makrypidis Alexandros Makrypidis Scilit Google Scholar View publications 1, Aristomenis Alevizopoulos Aristomenis Alevizopoulos Scilit Google Scholar View publications 2, Georgios Alevizopoulos Google Scholar See publications 3 and Dimitris Koutsouris Dimitris Koutsouris Scilit Google Scholar See publications 4

Technology Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Received: January 17, 2023 / Revised: March 18, 2023 / Accepted: May 29, 2023 / Published: June 9, 2023

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Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) have made significant progress in recent years; However, there are still several application areas where improvements are needed, including the accurate prediction of body movements during virtual reality (VR) simulations. To achieve a high level of immersion in VR sessions, it is important to have two-way interaction, usually achieved through the use of motion tracking devices such as controllers and body sensors. However, it might be possible to eliminate the need for these external tracking devices by directly acquiring movement information from the motor cortex using electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings. This could lead to smoother and more immersive VR experiences. Many studies have focused on EEG recordings during movement. While most of these studies have focused on motion prediction based on brain signals, a smaller number have focused on how to use them during VR simulations. This

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