Virtual Reality Therapy for Mental Stress Reduction JC11-JC16
Dr. Mahesh Veezhinathan,
Department of Biomedical Engineering, SSN College of Engineering, Chennai, Tamilnadu-603110, India.
Introduction: Mental stress is a perilous condition seen in students that is often overlooked in the daily course of life. With the advent of Virtual Reality Technology (VRT) and older techniques being cumbersome and hazardous, Virtual Reality Therapy is coming to the fore as a possible replacement in the field of rehabilitation and psychiatry.
Aim: To understand the role of VRT and its effectiveness in mitigating mental stress in students.
Materials and Methods: A sample size of 20 from a study population of 65 healthy, right-handed, and non-placed participants in their final year from the department of Biomedical Engineering were separated equally into normal and mildly stressed groups based on their DASS scores. A custom made Virtual Environment was used for therapy and an experimental protocol was employed. The Electroencephalogram (using RMS SuperSpec) and Mathematical Go-NoGo Task Performance results before and after the therapy were used to quantify the effectiveness of the therapy. The Mann-Whitney U Test was used for independent sample analysis of the DASS scores between the Normal and Mildly Stressed Groups, and the Post-hoc Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Test was used for related sample analysis of EEG and Task Performance during Rest, Task before therapy and Task after therapy.
Results: Though there was no significant difference in the DASS scores between the two groups, there was a sense of relaxation being imbibed into each group after therapy, by virtue of increased mean alpha and decreased mean theta band power in the EEG signals and also an increase in their task performance after therapy.
Conclusion: Thus, this study shows the possible ability of VRT in mitigating stress in the participants, and further studies between various levels of stress and using various environments could help establish VRT as a staple in the field of psychiatry for years to come.