China Begins Using VR for Drug Rehabilitation Programs
Ron Perillo / 11 months ago
The Shanghai Drug Rehabilitation Administration has announced that they have now begun using virtual reality to treat addicts. Its use is not gaming or entertainment however. The users wear a VR headset with an eye-movement tracking and heart rate monitor for recording purposes. Along with skin conductivity and other biological indicators, the program allows doctors to objectively assess the person’s level of addiction. Which could help staff understand the physiological conditions and adjust rehabilitation plans accordingly.
Rehabilitation Through Better Simulation
The program was developed by the Shanghai Mental Health Center with the School of Psychology and Cognitive Science of East China Normal University. Shanghai Qingtech developed the eye-tracking technology and have cooperated with the health center in fine tuning the application. The program so far treats 700 patients across two rehabilitation centers in Shanghai. It initially began in September, with plans to expand to three more rehabilitation centers in the area.
According to statistics from China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, more than 85% of treated drug addicts relapse within two years. This new VR system curbs that by providing an efficient desensitization treatment. Patients watch virtual scenarios which trigger cravings. An older program used only photos for the desensitization treatment, however deputy director of the center Zhao Min says that those were inadequate. Whereas with new virtual reality technology, they can more closely arouse the patient’s appetite for drugs.