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Teenagers with anxiousness can be treated with AR goggles

The pandemic has contributed to a rise in rates of anxiety and depression in recent years, which were already high prior to COVID-19.

According to statistics from the World Health Organisation, these ailments afflict 25% of the global populace while contributing $1 trillion a year to the worldwide economy. Counselling is one aspect of treatment, but in a medical facility, there is a limit to what can be accomplished.

A professor from Northeastern University is a member of the effort to attempt to alter this.

Sarah Ostadabbas, Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is in charge of a National Science Foundation initiative that the University of Pittsburgh is working on to create technologies that will employ augmented reality (AR) to help cure depression as well as anxiety in teenagers.

The suggested approach would record patients’ brain activity with an EEG cap, which would enable counsellors to follow their neurological signals, reactions to fear triggers, and advancement after an agreed-upon course of therapy. The hardware, particularly AR goggles, and machine learning software would generate an immersive 3D setting that helps individuals face their apprehensions in an authentic manner.

According to Osradabbas, a lot of these teens do not respond well to the therapy that is prescribed to them, and depression and anxiety have been on the rise dramatically.

Teens who are unresponsive to conventional treatment have a higher chance of experiencing severe outcomes, such as suicide and a reduced lifespan. One well-known technique is exposure therapy, which entails exposing patients to their phobias gradually in real life. It might be difficult to urge teens to track their feelings of dread, however. It lessens genuineness, interferes with their absorption in real-life events, and may go unnoticed—especially when social phobia is at its worst.

Osradabbas, who specialises in computational vision, machine learning, and mixed reality innovation, previously collaborated with University of Pittsburgh engineers to build the first brain-analysis technology that enables control over the visualisation of material in an augmented reality setting. By using this kind of technology to alter therapy by giving patients the opportunity to be exposed to their stresses via AR, the latest funding will advance the situation.

This allows clinicians to keep an eye on patients’ development and adjust the level of stimulation as necessary, in conjunction with brain signal tracking.

Osardabbas said that, due to their experience with augmented reality technologies, they were able to design particular scenarios for the augmented reality setting. As a result, the situation may be extremely realistic. It will be shown in three dimensions and may be layered in different settings and circumstances.

There isn’t anything like it on the shelves yet. By enabling teenagers to practice confronting their concerns in a more realistic setting, researchers believe that the new technology can close the current treatment gap.

According to Osardabbas, patients might be exposed to phobias such as public speaking using spectacles.

By observing how patients respond to their concerns in the goggles and collaborating with them to conquer them appropriately, brain signal tracking helps therapists evaluate patients and track their progress over the course of time.

According to Osardabbas, this approach may prove to be more efficacious in ascertaining the effectiveness of therapy since it provides insight into patients’ emotions instead of depending on them to express them.

The goal of this endeavour is to use brain signal analysis to create novel machine learning algorithms that may identify and measure fear levels in reaction to a variety of stimuli, according to the speaker.

Additionally, the researchers will collaborate with community specialists and provide training to collaborators who work with high school through graduate students.

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