The VR TierOne therapeutic solution was created in response to depression, currently one of the biggest health hazards worldwide. The disease is fairly common worldwide, but research suggests that the largest percentage of patients comes from the 60+ group. The changing demographic model of highly developed countries, which no longer resembles a traditional pyramid with a wide base, indicates an increasingly longer human life. Longevity, age-related diseases and depression are far from fair predictors for high quality of life. Mental health is still marginalized in treatment, prioritizing the physical part of health. Achieving mental well-being is crucial in regaining physical fitness in the course of severe diseases.
The growing number of people suffering from depression worldwide spurred our search for solutions that would make psychotherapy available to those who require it. The lack of a sufficient number of therapists and some patients’ concerns about using a psychotherapist’s help make this part of society doomed to lower the quality of life. VR TierOne helps because it combines what heals in a well-thought-out entity, transferred to Virtual Reality, where nothing is left to chance.
Garden of Rebirth
The team of VR TierOne team made use of idea of hortitherapy in its creation of therapeutic environment. Gardens were known for a long time to be supportive in health-related issues, they later lost importance to the the modern medicine, only to regain it recently. Traditionally in Europe of the past centuries, gardens were established next to the buildings of psychiatric hospitals, which fostered treatment. A highly aesthetic garden is conducive to contemplation and convalescence. Subject literature refers to examples where even the view of greenery in a hospital window accelerated the recovery. The longing for green areas is natural, and when unsatisfied it makes us feel depressed.
Establishing a hospital garden is not always possible and requires time, for example, for plant growth. Overcoming architectural barriers and providing disabled patients access to the garden is yet another issue. Hence the idea of transferring the patient to a virtual garden with salutary properties, one that would be accessible and friendly for every patient. Thanks to the substantive help of a garden designer, who is also a psychologist, the VR TierOne Garden of Rebirth presents itself as a soothing space using elements of Japanese horticulture. Garden therapy in virtual conditions takes place through full immersion in this environment. In a condition of total immersion, the patient observes the landscape, experiences the sounds of nature and listens to the narrative of the tutor. The patients take care of the garden in a metaphorical way.With each subsequent session, this particular Virtual World, where the therapist welcomes us during the first session, becomes tamed by the patients’ involvement. Repeated effort brings the patient closer to the environment, which is gradually becoming a Garden of Rebirth of their own, during the last sessions.
The advances in IT and the use of the latest solutions made it possible for the VR TierOne users to experience total immersion. Total separation from the stressing conditions of a hospital, and all other distractions, enables efficient therapy. Stimulating patients with images, sounds and touch enables their total immersion. The creators of the device took care of the highest-quality headset with a wide field of view, providing a three-dimensional high-res image and high-quality spatial stereo sound. Controllers recording the movement of the hands in space reproduce it with high precision. Thanks to haptic technology, the patients receive feedback on their interaction with the virtual environment, which makes it perceived as tangible. The 6 DoF (6 degrees of freedom) axial motion detection system allows freedom of movement in 6 axes in three-dimensional space. The users can move their heads around and change the position of the body, and whenever they change their position, the image displayed will reflect that change.
The therapeutic story
The mental layer of human health is supported by a therapeutic story designed specially for VR TierOne. The story in the Ericksonian psychotherapy trend was developed by a certified psychotherapist and was subjected to supervision by the Polish Ericksonian Institute. The story unwound by the virtual therapist brings about increased concentration, which makes the patient able to absorb the therapeutic stimuli. The virtual therapist guides the patients through all sessions in the Garden of Rebirth. He supports and strengthens them positively. The story activates these human resources, which are required to regain health. The specially selected voice of the tutor and the music designed by music therapists make the stay in the virtual Garden of Rebirth conducive to achieving a state of relaxation. The audiovisual content full of metaphors and symbols motivates the patients to further rehabilitation. In the course of the story, the patients perform tasks connected with colouring a mandala. Colouring not only supports eye-hand coordination, but also relaxes and calms the rehabilitated. Each accomplished task brings a positive effect in the Garden of Rebirth, and this makes the patients see the sense of their actions.
Interaction with the mandala improves the cognitive processes: memory, attention and perception.
The two-week VR TierOne therapy has been adjusted to the length of treatment stays in medical centers. It was designed in a way that enables the patients to complete the whole VR TierOne therapeutic cycle during a single rehabilitation stay.The therapy is divided into 8 sessions lasting up to 20 minutes each and an introductory session – familiarizing the patients with the virtual world. The length of one session is dictated by the effectiveness of concentration in time, which is the highest for the first several minutes. The sessions follow one another in a fixed order, representing subsequent days in the Garden of Rebirth. The objective of the therapy is to focus the patients’ attention on what is “here and now”, albeit still taking into account the future, which will be better thanks to this focus and today’s effort. Using the method of small steps and demonstrating great patience, the therapist guides the patient through all days of therapy. Patients are rewarded for their commitment during each of these sessions. Rewarding plays a supporting and motivating role.
The role of symbols
VR TierOne therapy uses visual symbols that make the virtual garden resemble the health condition of the patient. The story is full of metaphors that increase the impact of the audio content on the recipient. The suggestively depicted greyed out Revival Garden symbolizes weakened health, and the spring flowers blossoming after each session signify its gradual rebirth. Symbols referring to patients’ situation allow them to see for themselves that the actions they undertake have sense and bring effects. The moment they understand this symbolic makes the subjects of the therapy stronger and ready to act in the real world.
VR TierOne therapy is a safe and non-pharmacological method of treatment. The use of high-en VR technology solutions guarantees no side effects. Limiting the therapy to the virtual world renders it possible to use it in places that do not have the appropriate number of people qualified to provide psychological assistance. VR TierOne does not replace a psychotherapist, but supports work with the patients during rehabilitation, in which the patients’ mental condition is crucial for achieving satisfactory health effects.
The medical device was designed and manufactured by the multidisciplinary VR TierOne team. It allows access to the virtual Garden of Rebirth and conducting therapy there. Every effort has been made to make the operation of the professional device easy. The VR TierOne medical product may be operated by persons who are not physicians or therapists. VR TierOne helps not only patients, but also medical staff in their daily work.
VR TierOne medical device ready for use.
VR TierOne is a scientifically proven effective medical solution. There is completed research on the use of VR in the field of:
- respiratory rehabilitation support carried out at the Specialist Hospital of the Polish Home Office in Głuchołazy and at the University School of Physical Education in Wrocław,
- support for the treatment of depression in old age carried out at the SIWY DYM Foundation for the Activation of Seniors in Wrocław,
- applicability in cardiology conducted at the University School of Physical Education in Wrocław and the Pro Corde Cardiology Centre in Wrocław,
- post-stroke rehabilitation support carried out at Fondazione Ospedale San Camillo IRCCS in Venice, at the University School of Physical Education in Wrocław and the “Repty” Rehabilitation Centre in Tarnowskie Góry
demonstrated that VR TierOne reduced the levels of depression, anxiety and stress in all the aforementioned groups of patients. The VR TierOne team is interested in conducting research on the effectiveness of this therapeutic solution in other facilities.
After observations and conversations with people subjected to VR TierOne therapy, we can state that this form of therapy evokes fascination, satisfaction and even emotions. Influencing many senses triggers the intended emotional processes. Being cared for gives us a sense of security and a mind that functions uninterrupted with fear and sadness. A calm mind makes good and rational decisions, also regarding one’s own health. The therapy is intended for those patients, who will best benefit from VR TierOne therapy. However, there are no contraindications for successful use of its benefits by healthy people, who require deep relaxation and rejuvenation. It is worth noting that it is common to use various environments to minimize physical pain and enable, through optimal conditions, easier exercise and rehabilitation. It can be a cryo-chamber or a normal swimming pool. But what if it is the soul that aches, and the mental overload is so excessive, that this type of ailment renders the entire rehabilitation process impossible? Introducing the patient to the immersive virtual world of VR TierOne therapy then becomes an effective solution to this problem.