These VR Systems Help Treat Veterans Recovering From PTSD

Academic-Pentagon venture Bravemind has put virtual-reality equipment on 100 military bases and is expanding elsewhere.

By Adam Popescu  

“Is there blood and guts, as well?” one of the four psych clinicians asks during the virtual-reality demo, as a simulated explosion on an Iraqi street wreathes his convoy in dust and flames.

“We’ve got blood and guts,” confirms Albert “Skip” Rizzo, swiveling his head around, a graying ponytail yo-yoing behind him. “It’s something we try not to use. But we have it.”

The VR images on Rizzo’s proprietary headsets aren’t meant for the Call of Duty crowd. Rizzo runs Bravemind, an academia-Pentagon venture that makes VR hardware and software for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s about confronting your past and moving past it,” says the 62-year-old, motorcycle-riding, Uggs-wearing Ph.D. “A medical VR version of prolonged exposure therapy.”

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