Virtual Reality Could Be Used To Help Treat Vertigo

'We have a bucket ready.'

Contrary to popular belief, suffering from vertigo doesn’t just mean being afraid of heights.

In fact vertigo is a far more complex symptom that can make sufferers feel dizzy and experience sickness even with their feet firmly on the ground.

Now, a team of psychologists from Cardiff University, are using virtual reality to potentially try and diagnose, treat and rehabilitate patients with the condition.

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According to the NHS, vertigo is a symptom, which makes you feel that the environment around you is moving or spinning.

For those who do not have vertigo, the sensation is comparable to the swimming feeling you get if you are drunk and close your eyes.

Not pleasant.

For sufferers these attacks of vertigo can develop suddenly and last for a few seconds or much longer, and can be be triggered by environments as common as supermarkets or the bus.

Dr Georgina Powell, told BBC: “We don’t know very much about what causes visual vertigo at the moment.”

“It can mean that a patient can’t leave their house because they feel so sick and nauseous every time they walk around in their visual environment.”

And because of the unpredictability of the condition, the team wanted to try and use virtual environments instead of real life to work out the situations that cause the vertigo for each individual.

If they are successfully able to use these headsets to establish the trigger in a safe place, they hope to use this to aid rehabilitation.

The rehabilitation would involve gradually introducing components of the trigger setting over a period of time and slowly treat the cause.

“There also are not many effective rehabilitation therapies available, so the aim of the project is to try and understand those two things,” said Dr. Powell.

And if that doesn’t quite work, they do have a bucket ready.

“Generally they can only handle so much of the virtual reality images at one time - we have a bucket ready,” she added.

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