Virtual reality occupational therapy

Virtual reality technology allows you to be exposed to a computer-generated environment. Using a head-mounted display, computer graphics let you enter a safe three-dimensional, immersive, simulated “virtual” environment. This simulated environment changes in a natural way depending on the your head or body movements. While we are still in the early stages of VR adoption in healthcare, there is a coming wave of VR devices and applications that will transform the way healthcare is delivered.

Clinical research have shown that virtual reality (VR) can be used effectively for pain management, mental health recovery and neurorehabilitation. VR can create an environment for people in which they can heal and reduce stress. VR can also be used to help people learn new skills that they can apply in real-world situations.

At Lifeworks, we are currently developing our unique Virtual Reality Occupational Therapy programs in Pain Management and Mental Health Recovery.

Virtual Reality (VR) can also be used to help you recover from anxiety and PTSD through Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET). VRET aims to reduce anxiety by having the person confront what you fear (e.g. heights, flying, public speaking, driving, being in public places). Exposure can be carried out using VR, where you are exposed to a computer-simulated environment. These simulations are safe, controlled by a trained occupational therapist, and can be stopped at any time. Together, you and your occupational therapist select the virtual environments and experiences that will be most helpful for you depending on your fear and your stage of therapy. Through exposure to a feared situation, you gradually get used to that situation and develop better coping skills. This reduces fear and improves your sense of control as you feel less need to avoid the situation. The same concept of “tricking the brain” in pain management, clinical research have shown VR exposure therapy to be effective in helping people deal with anxiety, phobias and PTSD.

VR Therapy is an emerging alternative therapy that could reduce the reliance on medication. Using sophisticated VR headsets, you are immersed in a safe and relaxing environment which temporarily alters your experience, thus “tricking you brain” and providing a distraction from symptoms that trigger pain. Being immersed in such a pleasing environment can increase your sense of control and provides a new, safe way to cope with pain. Your occupational therapist will help you develop a therapy plan that is right for you with the intention of helping you improve your performance in important daily tasks and quality of life.

COVID-19 Update

We hope you are safe and well, and coping with all the changes to our lives that have occurred due to COVID-19.  We would like to let you know that we are here to support you, and are continuing to provide occupational therapy services. We have temporarily ceased any clinic-based consultations in order to reduce any risk to our clients and our staff. All of our staff are now currently working from home.  Our preference is to provide OT services as much as possible via telehealth.  This means either telephone or online consultations.  This is the best way to still provide services and remove any risk of infection.  We understand however, that for some of our clients, this is neither suitable or possible. Where telehealth is not appropriate, and an occupational therapy service is essential, we are continuing to see clients in their homes or in the community. We do this with all the physical distancing and hygiene precautions in place.
We will contact you prior to your appointment to see if it is possible for us to provide your service via telehealth. If it is not possible and we are planning to come to your home, please let us know if you or anyone in your household are unwell with any symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever, cough or sore throat.
We care very much about our clients and staff and we would like to reassure you that we are doing our best to keep surfaces and our hands clean and will maintain a safe physical distance during home visits.  This means we will not shake hands when we greet you, and will only use direct hands on contact when essential.

If you are well and we come to see you at home or in the community, please:

  • Maintain a 1.5 metre physical distance where possible.
  • Wash or sanitise your hands before and after appointments where possible.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, please use a tissue and dispose of it or cover your mouth and nose with your elbow.
  • Refrain from having additional family members/carers with you if possible as the less people in contact with everyone the better.
We know that at this time some of our clients may be finding it particularly difficult with increased isolation, anxiety or a reduction in their usual supports and services.  We would like you to know that if this applies to you, please reach out to us to ask for help, and we will try our best to help you access the support you need.

We sincerely appreciate your understanding of the above. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.  

Best Wishes
The Lifeworks Occupational Therapy Team