While we all concentrate on the excitement surrounding the latest virtual reality games and experiences, thanks to the recently launched higher-end headsets, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, there may be more to this revolution than just the thrills of awesome gaming and immersive new environments. In fact, the benefits of virtually reality on both the mentally and physically ill are coming to light as of late and many within the industry have been caught off guard by this phenomenon. From arthritis to autism, virtual reality is already making a major impact on the lives of many individuals on this planet. Over the course of the last couple of weeks a number of highly inspirational stories regarding the impact of virtual reality have bubbled to the surface, and I thought I’d bring two particular cases to light.
The first story was brought to us by one incredible father who has a son that’s not only autistic but also suffers from numerous other physical ailments. The story and the impact that virtual reality has had on his and his son’s lives can be found in the Reddit passage below:
My autistic middle son suffers from a number of ailments. He has to spend every day attached for 8 hours to an IV for IVIG infusions and saline supplements. He has to be still for treatments, so this really limits his ability to “Be a Kid” and play freely outside and with friends. Recently, I let him try the Vive to see if he could handle the experience. Well, he more than handled it — he was transported to another world. He now is able to travel to places, see other worlds, and interact while constrained with his chest port. I kept thinking of Bran Stark from Game of Thrones when he takes control of other beings.
I’ve been a long time VR supporter, with a DK2, CV1, and now the Vive. But the room scale with tracked controllers were the tipping point for him. I let him try various things before, but with an xbox controller the immersion wasn’t convicing enough. I’m eagerly awaiting the Oculus touch.
With the Vive, he sat on top of the castle tower shooting arrows down in “The Lab” for hours. His creativity in Tilt Brush was inspiring. He loves Portal 2 and having him see GLaDOS in VR, his mouth dropped, and he stepped back. I really feel that VR can play a huge role in giving people with limited mobility the ability to experience things they thought were unreachable.
All of the efforts from Valve, Oculus, HTC, /u/palmerluckey, John Carmack (one of my life-long idols), and many others are going to make a much larger impact on the world outside of the gaming realm. I am really hoping that VR sticks around for good this time. I’ve love VR and follow it for entertainment, but as a parent, seeing your son feel like a real kid is priceless.
The next story, also having to do with the impact that virtual reality has had on an individual, was posted on Reddit as well, and deals with a 33-year-old game developer with arthritis in his lower back. The pain was so severe that he had thought he’d be doomed to agony for the rest of his long life. That’s until he got his hands on an HTC Vive VR headset. The man, going by the handle Kezown on Reddit, elaborated on his story in the post below:
I’m a game developer so I spend a lot of time in front of a computer and TV. I have those fancy Herman Aeron chairs at work and home to make sure that I’m sitting correctly, but over the years I have unfortunately developed arthritis in my lower back (at the tender age of 33). I have tried all sorts of things to try ease the pain like daily stretches and going to the gym 5 days a week, even the occasional spliff, but none of them have helped. I’ve taken the day off work today to play with the Vive, and it’s the first time in a very long time that I was able to have a lie in until 11am. Normally spending 12 hours in bed would be very painful for me, but I woke up with a spring in my step. Over the last few days I have spent many hours in roomscale, playing games like Audioshield and Space Pirate Trailer really give you a great workout (especially Space Pirate Trailer, what a great game). The main thing is that It’s got me on my feet, being active. On a typical day I would come home and play CounterStrike or watch TV series with my girlfriend and then go to bed. But now I’m leaping around and dodging bullets (sorry neighbours), and it’s really helped ease my arthritis pain. I am extremely happy with my purchase as it has improved my livelihood and I hope you all are too once HTC ship your Vives and you get a chance to play these amazing games.
While virtual reality technology is already getting a tremendous amount of buzz within gaming circles as a revolutionary new medium, it’s heartwarming stories like these which have the potential to enlighten the medical community to new ways of treating both mental and physical ailments. Do you have a similar story to tell about how virtual reality helped you or a loved one? We’d love to hear it in the VR Health Stories forum on VRTalk.com.