Virtual Reality in the management of Functional Neurological Disorder

Our FND psychological programme

Head to Toe Clinical Psychology is committed to keeping up to date with the latest research and management of Functional Neurological Disorder (FND). We have been developing our programme of psychological management and have established a broad treatment plan for individuals with FND to assist with consistency and efficacy in delivery of this important component of the FND multidisciplinary approach.

Virtual reality protocol

As part of our programme of psychological management we have been developing a protocol for using Virtual Reality (VR) headsets in our sessions. VR is a new technology that is developing quickly. VR therapy is extremely safe for the general population. Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy is used by many individuals in many psychology and physiotherapy practices internationally. There is good evidence for using VR in the management of neurological disorders, chronic pain and mental health conditions including for anxiety and stress management. There is also research supporting the acceptability of VR in Australian healthcare settings. There is limited research in the use of VR with FND, however we are enthusiastic about the opportunities this modality presents for individuals with FND.

How is VR used?

VR technology has been shown to have potential as a therapeutic tool for individuals with FND. Here are some of the ways that VR can be used to support therapy for this condition:

  1. Exposure therapy: VR can be used to create virtual environments that simulate real-life situations that trigger symptoms, such as dizziness or tremors. Patients can then practice coping strategies and desensitise themselves to their triggers in a controlled and safe environment.
  2. Motor rehabilitation: VR can be used to provide patients with engaging and immersive rehabilitation exercises for motor skills, such as balance and coordination, which are often impaired in functional neurological disorders.
  3. Pain management: VR can be used to distract patients from their pain and provide them with a sense of relaxation and comfort. This can be particularly helpful for individuals with functional neurological disorders who may also experience chronic pain.
  4. Anxiety and stress reduction: VR can be used to provide patients with immersive and calming environments, such as virtual nature scenes or underwater scenes, to help reduce anxiety and stress levels.
  5. Improving cognitive function: VR can be used to provide patients with cognitive tasks, such as memory games or problem-solving exercises, to improve cognitive function and help with memory, attention, and processing speed.

Head to Toe Clinical Psychology will be offering VR as part of our psychological management of FND from January 2023.

If you’d like to find out more please Contact Us.

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