S. Korean doctors to treat panic disorder patients with VR technology

By Park Sae-jin Posted : November 16, 2017, 10:28 Updated : April 14, 2023, 16:50

This file image shows visitors trying out various VR headsets at "VR SUMMIT" at a KINTEX Hall in Ilsan northwest of Seoul on June 30. [Photo by Park Sae-jin]

South Korean doctors will use VR, the latest visual technology to treat patients with mental disorders such as panic disorder and PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder)

Officials from Gacheon University Gil Medical center located in Incheon, a western satellite city of Seoul, said in a statement on Tuesday that it would open a "Virtual Reality Treatment Center" in January next year.

"We can treat panic disorder patients by exposing them to situations they would normally avoid," said a hospital official. "There are cases of using VR technology on mental patients have found out to be effective."

The doctors explained each patient will be provided with VR treatments tailored to his or her mental conditions. The patients will be exposed to various situations using the VR technology with an aim to have them get used to different surroundings.

The VR treatment center will start with treating panic disorder and PTSD patients and expand its service to other mental patients suffering from ADHD and mild cognitive impairment.

South Korea experienced a sharp rise in the number of patients suffering from panic disorder during the last five years. According to government data, a total of 131,958 people visited clinics because of the mental disorder, up 65 percent from 2012's 87,003 people.
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