Complex Made Simple

VR becoming essential stress reliever for people and animals!

VR can cure anxiety, stress and even substance addiction, claustrophobia and depression. It can also make cows produce better milk

Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) have joined the fight against stress and anxiety A new wave of psychological research is pioneering VR to diagnose and treat social anxiety to chronic pain to Alzheimer’s disease VR-based diagnostic testing for conditions like schizophrenia, ADHD and autism could offer more objective results than interview-based methods

Gone are the days when virtual reality (VR) headsets are game-only devices accused of messing with our heads to now used as medical solutions for diseases that mess with our heads.

And the heads of animals too.

Some VR headsets at RusMoloko dairy farm near Moscow relax cows, offering them sun-filled summer views of green pastures, which enable them to produce more milk.

The headsets were carefully designed by combining years of experience in the dairy farming industry, as well as technology.

Researchers also looked into the animals’ emotional state and found higher quality milk production from those that had a calm atmosphere. 

Technology such as rotating brushes in cows’ stalls to massage the animals, robotic systems that enable the cows to roam more freely and broadly or simply playing classical music on loudspeakers are all used techniques to soothe the cows.  

These VR goggles were carefully designed by developers in a VR studio, alongside veterinarians to take account of the structural features of the cows’ heads. 

Read: Facebook buys out studio behind popular VR game Beat Saber

VR views that work with a cow’s vision include higher perception of the color red but weaker tones of blue and green. 

Can living in a virtual world help cows make more and better quality milk?

According to a Redditor, it would take 43 days for a cow to make enough milk to be worth an Oculus VR headset.

VR as a stress fighter

Stress is a silent killer. Could Virtual and Augmented Reality be the solution to this increasing problem that affects millions of people around the world?  

In 2019, 94% of American workers report experiencing stress at their workplace. Around 23% described their stress levels as high, reports the American Institute of Stress.

Workplace stress represents an increasing portion of modern life general mental health crisis. Tight deadlines, increasingly heavy workloads, and demanding bosses add to stress levels. 

Stress, among other disabling medical ailments leads to a decrease in productivity which affects both employees and companies.

Read: Groundbreaking VR learning lab to open in Dubai Production City

Workplace stress statistics according to the American Institute of Stress include:

  • 83% of U.S. workers suffer from work-related stress
  • U.S. businesses lose up to $300 billion yearly as a result of workplace stress
  • Stress causes around one million workers to miss work every day
  • Work-related stress causes 120,000 deaths and results in $190 billion in healthcare costs yearly

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) have joined the fight against stress and anxiety. Through a series of simulations, users are induced into relaxation, meditation, and restorative sleep, all of which will contribute to the betterment of the biochemistry and physiology of the individual.   

Healium XR uses real-time EEG feedback to increase feelings of positivity. Instead of the user’s biometric data being sequestered on a smartwatch, their heart rate and brainwave data are brought to life in Virtual and Augmented Reality stories.  

The power of positive thoughts and emotions should never be underestimated. However, for most individuals, this requires some training. A VR solution that creates stories and recalls positive memories may just do the trick. 

Read: This Lebanese startup beat 100+ int’l companies in a VR dev competition for a AED 500k prize

Mental health and VR

Virtual Reality might be the next big thing for Mental Health

A new wave of psychological research is pioneering VR to diagnose and treat medical conditions from social anxiety to chronic pain to Alzheimer’s disease. Many of these solutions are still in laboratory testing, but some are already making their way into hospitals and therapists’ offices.

VR has been used successfully to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the 1990s, but these new programs address a much broader range of conditions. The library of Palo Alto–based Limbix, for instance, includes VR content designed to treat issues including alcohol addiction, claustrophobia and teenage depression. Barcelona-based Psious offers treatments for eating disorders.

Today’s VR content is primarily designed to aid exposure therapy, a treatment for anxiety disorders. Patients are exposed to anxiety-inducing stimuli in a safe, controlled environment, eventually learning that the “threats” they’re worried about are not actually very dangerous. For example, someone who fears heights might visit progressively taller buildings under the guidance of their therapist (in vivo exposure), while someone with PTSD might revisit traumatic memories in therapy sessions (imaginary exposure).

A meta-analysis published this year found that VR compares favourably to existing treatments for anxiety disorders, eating and weight disorders, and pain management, with long-term effects that generalise to the real world.

“According to neuroscience, to regulate and control the body in the world effectively, the brain creates an embodied simulation of the body in the world used to represent and predict actions, concepts and emotions,” said the report, published in Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking.

When it comes to pain management, VR technology has multiple applications in a medical setting.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) has been medically proven to reduce pain by 25%; reduce the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder; increase comfort levels when receiving difficult treatments such as injections and wound dressings; reduce anxiety and depression during chemotherapy; and lessen patient boredom when hospitalised, especially in children.

Some researchers believe that VR-based diagnostic testing for conditions like schizophrenia, ADHD and autism could offer more objective results than today’s interview-based methods.

Also incorporating AI therapists into VR programming could have many advantages. For example, it could make mental health treatment more accessible to people who lack time or money to see a practitioner in person.  

Visit the moon while at spa

New stress busting wellness experiences see you travel the world – even the moon – for meditation and relaxation

At the Amooma Spa & Sanctuary in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, virtual reality sessions offer the opportunity of a break from city life without the ordeal and inconvenience of airports and travel stress.

Pick one of 10 destinations for an instant escape, including a tropical rainforest, a spot to admire the Northern Lights, or the moon.  

 “Guided Meditation” sessions run for 5, 15 or 30 minutes costing $23 to $74 and is intended to be enjoyed before a massage or facial, or during a manicure or pedicure.

 In Los Angeles, Esqapes Immersive Relaxation offers office workers 30-minute sessions for just $45with sessions designed to make the escape as realistic as possible.

Enjoyed in a high-end massage chair, these VR escapes go one step further and provide subtle cues like heating, wind and scents to transport users to their virtual location.