Using realistic war games to re-create the sights, sounds, and even smells of combat is helping veterans overcome post-traumatic stress disorder in several clinical trials. Games like Virtual Iraq—modeled on Full Spectrum Warrior—help psychologists bring patients back to traumatic events and break down mental barriers. Researchers say the treatment is proving highly effective with younger veterans raised on video games.
Virtual reality programs are a low-cost and effective way to treat PTSD, advocates say, and don't carry the same stigma for soldiers that traditional psychotherapy does. Some psychologists, however, warn that while such exposure treatment is faster, it's not always better. Veterans need to be given a "great deal of say as to whether they will do it," one psychiatrist, a Vietnam vet, told American Medical News.