Research to Results

The Science of VR

The concepts of virtual reality date back to the 1960s, with the first commercial VR tools appeared in
the late 1980s. In other words, VR is not new.
And it isn’t just for gaming.

Medical applications of VR are accelerating rapidly
and BehaVR is at the forefront, working with
pioneers in the field such as Walter Greenleaf, Ph.D. and Hunter Hoffman, Ph.D.

The field continues to grow, with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration recognizing VR as a subset of Medical Extended Reality, or MXR.


VR for Healthcare

Since the mid-1990s, the number of VR clinical application papers has grown exponentially.

In 1996, University of Washington investigators Hunter Hoffman, PhD and David Patterson, PhD co-originated the then new technique of using virtual reality for pain control. In 2000, Hoffman et al. published Virtual reality as an adjunctive pain control during burn wound care in adolescent patients.

The body of literature on the use of VR in healthcare applications has exploded since. Published studies include the use of VR for clinical conditions such as acute and chronic pain management, anxiety disorders, phobias, posttraumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and rehabilitation.

The neurological and psychological power of VR is unmatched.
Websites and apps are simply not up to the task of creating experiences that engage, motivate and activate behavior change. VR is far more psychologically powerful.

At BehaVR, our progressive, multi-session medical XR experiences are built upon Balance, our foundational program that teaches users stress resilience and emotion regulation—active coping.

Because of its neurological and psychological power, VR is an ideal vehicle to teach people the skills they need to optimize their stress response—at will. The ability to actively cope and be resilient to stress is extensible across a variety of physical—and behavioral health—conditions.

One important technique of several that BehaVR utilizes is mindfulness. A large body of scientific literature indicates that mindfulness can modulate a range of behavioral and neurobiological elements implicated in adaptive stress coping (an amygdala-sgACC pathway; reduced amygdala reactivity, and heightened amygdala-VMPFC connectivity). Practicing mindfulness techniques in VR ‘amplifies’ the effect.

A strategy BehaVR utilizes is to take ‘analog,’ evidence-based concepts and turn them into scalable, ‘digital’ VR experiences. For example, Pain Neuroscience Education—an educational strategy within the biopsychosocial model of care for individuals with chronic pain—has been shown in systematic reviews and meta-analyses to be effective. BehaVR’s Pain Neuroscience Education+ in VR program leverages this evidence-based strategy with the immersive power of VR.

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