The treatment of various mental disorders and diseases by exposing patients to virtual reality (Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy – short VRET), is not new in the world of medicine and it is already widely used in the United States and in some European countries.
A group of young people from BiH decided, for the first time in our region, to develop software that will help people overcome their fears through the use of virtual reality.
Magazine Techflier from California, which follows the development of smart technologies from around the world, declared their project as the best startup from BiH in 2017. BiH could become the first country in the region with the use of VR therapy soon.
“We are working on developing software for VR devices that will be used for medical purposes in the fields of psychiatry and psychology, and the goal is to help people in the treatment of mental illnesses through the use of virtual reality. Our focus is on the improvement of the treatment of stress, panic, and phobias. VRET therapy involves a three-dimensional view of the landscape and the projection of different images that people see when you put the VR device on their head,” explained Iva Djikic, project manager of the project.
According to her, the idea was formed 9 months ago, when a team of young people decided to take advantage of the support that is provided to the young BH entrepreneurs through SPARK program, which offers the space to its members with all the equipment necessary for the development of their ideas, as well as services of business advisory.
“We decided to get engaged with VR technology as this is a new age technology, which is constantly being refined and developed. Before we started the project, we explored on how VR technology really helps in medicine. We got in touch with the director of the Institute for Creative Technologies, which has its own VR Medical Center in Los Angeles. We are in almost daily contact with him through Skype and he helped us a lot to work on this project, spoke to us about their experiences, research … By the way, about the importance of this method of treatment also speaks the work of his center that was funded by the Government of the United States and it is based on help in the treatment of patients with PTSD. These are mainly soldiers and war veterans, and they are currently working with the survivors of the terrorist attack in Paris in 2015 and they have very good results,” said Djikic.
Besides Iva, members of the Bosnian team based in Mostar are developers Andrej and Jozo Vasilj, and Kristian Maric, who is in charge of marketing. After they passed all the stages of testing, they are expecting their product to be found in hospitals and clinics throughout the country.
“Software or the device will not be sold commercially, nor will be able to be used without professional supervision because there are clearly defined rules of ethics and medicine for VR devices. For now, we have established cooperation with the Polyclinic ‘Vitalis’ from Mostar and they will test our product in the next two months, on the basis of which we will get specific and valid results. The first product, which is already completed, is designed for stress reduction. The less stress, less disease and more relaxed and happy people. We are working hard on it with the hope that our efforts will pay off,” she says.
During VR therapy, the therapist is monitoring patient’s reaction on the monitor. Unlike traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy, VR treatments can be adjusted to the patient through picture, sound, and vibration, and thus allow the therapist to determine what are the “triggers” for certain reactions in the patient.