Virtual reality (VR) technology offers new opportunities for the development of innovative clinical research, assessment, and intervention tools. VR-based testing, training, and treatment approaches that would be difficult, if not impossible, to deliver using traditional methods are now being developed that take advantage of the assets that are available with VR technology. As research evidence continues to indicate clinical efficacy, VR applications are being increasingly regarded as providing innovative options for targeting the cognitive, psychological, motor, and functional impairments that result from various clinical health conditions. VR allows for the precise presentation and control of stimuli within dynamic multisensory 3D computer-generated environments, as well as providing advanced methods for capturing and quantifying behavioral responses. These characteristics serve as the basis for the rationale for the use of VR applications in the clinical assessment, intervention, and training domains. This chapter begins with a brief review of the history and rationale for the use of VR with clinical populations. This chapter then focuses on reviewing four fundamental areas where clinical VR has shown significant potential to enhance clinical practice and research (exposure therapy, neuropsychological assessment [NA] cognitive/physical rehabilitation, and the use of virtual human [VH] agents). At the end of each of these sections, a detailed use case is presented. The goal of this chapter is to present a clear rationale for VR use across diverse areas of clinical practice and present examples of how this has been done successfully. While significant work has been done in other areas of clinical VR (e.g., pain distraction, eating disorders, social skills training), a full treatment of such a broad literature is beyond the scope of this chapter. Thus, we have opted to provide more depth on specific clinical areas where VR has been applied to address anxiety disorders with exposure therapy, NA, cognitive/physical rehabilitation, and emerging work developing VHs to serve the role of virtual patients for clinical training and as health-care agent to promote access.
|Title of host publication||Handbook of Virtual Environments|
|Subtitle of host publication||Design, Implementation, and Applications, Second Edition|
|Number of pages||46|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|